Quality improvement at the Brazil Specialty Coffee

Introduction

The company chosen for study is a coffee manufacturing company located in Brazil. It offers Arabica coffee to a series of coffee consumers throughout the world. The company usually obtains all its coffees from Brazil farmers located in Cerrado, Bahia, Mogiana and South Minas. Their specialty coffees are produced through series of processes that shall be reviewed below.

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Description of process

 The Brazil specialty Coffee Association (BSCA) begins their process through berry collection on coffee farms. The company ensures that farmers’ berries are just right since berries that are too young may be too sweet while overly mature berries are sour. Thereafter, the company usually de-pulps the coffee berry by eliminated the non-bean portion of their coffee. At this company, they ensure that coffees are placed in different categories depending on their quality. This is then followed by fermentation. During the fermentation process, the coffee beans are kept in fermentation tanks where all the honey found within the beans are eliminated. Usually, this honey emanates from other non-coffee bean elements such as pulp. (Risman, 2008)

Thereafter, the coffee is washed. This process involves placing beans in tanks where they are washed with water under high pressure. Normally, the coffee beans will have no more honey or honey flavors after this process. This process also distinguishes the varieties of coffee beans. Those ones with high quality are found at the bottom and vice versa for the opposite category. Thereafter, much time is taken to dry the coffee beans. This is usually done in the outdoors. When the beans have been properly dried, they are then taken through the roasting phase. Here, a roaster is utilized and eventually brings out the right coffee type. Care is usually taken to ensure that the right color of the coffee beans is utilized. Also, they ensure that the beans are not too oily. In addition, the company takes time to bring out the right flavor of the coffee so that it can be used to make a good cup of Arabica coffee.  The second last step is packaging where the roasted coffee is placed into packages displaying the company name and logo. Lastly, the coffee is distributed to a series of consumers

In flow chart of process as is

Relationship of process to organizational strategic process

The process under analysis is the production process. This is the key component of the organization’s strategic plan. Their intention is to be a market leader in coffee manufacture around the world. In order to achieve this, the company needs to ensure that the quality of their coffee falls in line with this strategic plan. This means that they need to ensure their speed, efficiency, quantity, quality of coffee can sustain market leadership in the coffee sector. (Quality Assurance, 2008)

Internal and external customers currently affected by the process

The internal customers who would benefit from a process upgrade include the marketing department. This group would have an easier time marketing quality products. The procurement department could be affected positively; because the efficiency of the process will have been enhanced. The accounting section will benefit because production capacities will have increased so the numbers will be flowing. The Information technological department would be affected because they will play a large part in implementing those changes. Also, the distribution and sales department would be affected because they will have greater amounts of resources to work with.

The external consumers consist of a variety of purchasers. First of all, they utilize some international supermarket chains, restaurants and cafes, wholesalers and there are also individual consumers who purchase the commodity from the company directly. All these consumers require efficient delivery and quality coffee. (Risman, 2008)

Quality management tools that can be used to collect and present data on the process improvement changes

The most important quality management tool to be used in the process is the FADE quality improvement model. This is a four step process that involves;

·         Focusing

·         Analysis

·         Developing

·         Executing

The latter steps are crucial in enhancing quality through simple procedures. Focusing involves identifying the process and studying it. Analyzing involves the process of collecting data, analyzing the data and establishing the major sources of the problem. Developing is the process of creating an action plan which will assist in the process of improving one’s problems within the process. In this case, there ought to be specification on how the process will be implemented, communicated, measured and monitored. Execution involves implementing the action. After executing, evaluation should be conducted where the process can be constantly controlled. (Quality Assurance, 2008)

Application of the model to the process and level of improvement

As stated earlier, the first step in the FADE model is focusing. In this case, the process under analysis is the production process. The next step is analysis. After collection of data, it has been found that the coffee making process at BSCA yields high quality coffee. However, the production process’ speed does not meet international demand. Consequently, it would be favorable if the company re-engineered their process to come up with a speedier production process. The major areas that could be causing these include; Berry selection, Drying and separating. At the moment, the company works hand in hand with a variety of out growers throughout Brazil. However, they only have few experts who know how to select the right barriers; consequently, this is slowing down the process. Besides that, the drying process is also slowing them down because they lack adequate technology. Lastly, separating good quality coffee from lower quality coffee is also proceeding at quite a slow pace. If these areas are improved, then the entire process will be hastened without affecting the quality of the coffee.

The next step is to come up with an action plan. In this case, the company needs to employ more experts in the coffee selection process. This can be done within a period of six months and can be achieved through comprehensive job recruitment. The second issue concerns the company’s’ drying process. This company ought to employ artificial drying methods because it would save a lot of time. This can be done by purchasing coffee dryers; the purchasing can be done within a period of one month and staff trained on how to use it. Thereafter, the company needs to hasten their operating process. They can do this by replacing a large chunk of their mechanical machines with electronic ones as the latter are more efficient. (Risman, 2008)

The execution of the process changes can be done concurrently for all the steps. Purchasing of equipment can be done within the stated time while recruitment of experts ought to concur with the respective time spans identified in the development phase. Thereafter, a system to measure the changes ought to be instituted. This can be done by examining the time taken up by each of the three stages and comparing it with the former time before the changes

Conclusion

Brazil Specialty Coffee Company has been performing well over the past few years. However, they need to improve their production speed in order to sustain competition. The most appropriate model for this system is the FADE model and through their process, both internal and external consumers will have greater resources at their disposal.

Reference

Quality Assurance (2008): Methods and Tools, retrieved from http://www.qaproject.org/methods/resimprove2.html accessed on 10th September 2008

Risman, P. (2008): The Coffee Mill, retrieved from http://www.ineedcoffee.com/by/paul_risman/ accessed on 10th September 2008

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