The Lew-Mark Baking Company Case Study

The Company

The Lew-Mark Baking Company is located in a small town in western New York State.
The bakery is run by two brothers. Lew and Mark, who formed the company after they
purchased an Archway Cookie franchise. With exclusive rights in New York and New Jersey,
it is the largest Archway franchise. The company employs fewer than 200 people, mainly blue-collar workers, and the atmosphere is informal.

The Product
The company’s only product is soft cookies, of which it makes over 50 varieties. Larger
companies, such as Nabisco, Sunshine, and Keebler, have traditionally produced biscuit cookies,
in which most of the water has been baked out, resulting in crisp cookies. Archway cookies have
no additives or preservatives. The high quality of the cookies has enabled the company to develop a strong market niche for its product.

The Customers

The cookies are sold in convenience stores and supermarkets throughout New York and
New Jersey. Archway markets its cookies as “good food” no additives or preservatives and this
appeals to a health-conscious segment of the market. Many customers are over 45 years of age,
and prefer a cookie that is soft and not too sweet. Parents with young children also buy the
cookies.

The Production Process

The company has two continuous band ovens that it uses to bake the cookies. The production
process is called a batch processing system. It begins as soon as management gets orders from
distributors. These orders are used to schedule production. At the start of each shift, a list of the
cookies to be made that day is delivered to the person in charge of mixing. That person checks
a master list, which indicates the ingredients needed for each type of cookie, and enters that
information into the computer. The computer then determines the amount of each ingredient
needed, according to the quantity of cookies ordered, and relays that information to storage silos
located outside the plant where the main ingredients (flour, sugar, and cake flour) are stored. The
ingredients are automatically sent to giant mixing machines where the ingredients are combined
with proper amounts of eggs, water, and flavorings. After the ingredients have been mixed, the
batter is poured into a cutting machine where it is cut into individual cookies. The cookies are
then dropped onto a conveyor belt and transported through one of two ovens. Filled cookies, such as apple, date, and raspberry, require an additional step for filling and folding.

The nonfilled cookies are cut on a diagonal rather than round. The diagonal-cut cookies
require less space than straight-cut cookies, and the result is a higher level of productivity. In
addition, the company recently increased the length of each oven by 25 feet, which also increased the rate of production.
As the cookies emerge from the ovens, they are fed onto spiral cooling racks 20 feet high
and 3 feet wide. As the cookies come off the cooling racks, workers place the cookies into boxes
manually, removing any broken or deformed cookies in the process. The boxes are then wrapped, sealed, and labeled automatically.

Inventory

Most cookies are loaded immediately onto trucks and shipped to distributors. A small
percentage is stored temporarily in the company’s warehouse, but they must be shipped shortly
because of their limited shelf life. Other inventory includes individual cookie boxes, shipping
boxes, labels, and cellophane for wrapping. Labels are reordered frequently, in small batches,
because FDA label requirements are subject to change, and the company does not want to get
stuck with labels it can’t use. The bulk silos are refilled two or three times a week, depending
on how quickly supplies are used.
Cookies are baked in a sequence that minimizes downtime for cleaning. For instance, light-colored cookies (e.g., chocolate chip) are baked before dark-colored cookies (e.g., fudge), and
oatmeal cookies are baked before oatmeal raisin cookies. This permits the company to avoid
having to clean the processing equipment every time a different type of cookie is produced.

Quality

The bakery prides itself on the quality of its cookies. A quality control inspector sample
cookies randomly as they come off the line to assure that their taste and consistency are
satisfactory, and that they have been baked to the proper degree. Also, workers on the line are
responsible for removing defective cookies when they spot them.

Scrap
The bakery is run very efficiently and has minimal amounts of scrap. For example, if a
batch is mixed improperly; it is sold for dog food. Broken cookies are used in the oatmeal
cookies. These practices reduce the cost of ingredients and save on waste disposal costs. The
company also uses heat reclamation: The heat that escapes from the two ovens is captured
and used to boil the water that supplies the heat to the building. Also, the use of automation
in the mixing process has resulted in a reduction in waste compared with the manual methods
used previously.

New Products
Ideas for new products come from customers, employees, and observations of competitors’
products. New ideas are first examined to determine whether the cookies can be made with
existing equipment. If so, a sample run is made to determine the cost and time requirements. If
the results are satisfactory, marketing tests are conducted to see if there is a demand for the
product.

Potential Improvements

There are a number of areas of potential improvement at the bakery. One possibility would
he automates packing the cookies into boxes. Although labor costs are not high, automating the
process might save some money and increase efficiency. So far, the owners have resisted
making this change because they feel an obligation to the community to employ the 30 women
who now do the boxing manually? Another possible improvement would be to use suppliers who
are located closer to the plant. That would reduce delivery lead times and transportation costs,
but the owners are not convinced that local suppliers could provide the same good quality. Other
opportunities have been proposed in recent years, but the owner rejected them because they
feared that the quality of the product might suffer

Questions

  1. Briefly describe the cookie production process. (1 Mark) 150 words
  2. What are two ways that the company has increased productivity? Why did increasing the
    length of the ovens results in a faster output? (1 Mark) 150 words
  3. Do you think that the company is making the right decision by not automating the packing
    of cookies? Explain your reasoning. What obligation does a company have to its employees
    in a situation such as this? (2 Marks) 200 Words
  4. What factors cause Lew-mark to carry minimal amounts of certain inventories? What
    benefits result from this policy?

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS