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Process strategy

Introduction
Process refers to the procedures undertaken to ensure a product or service meets the end user needs. It is mainly concerned with planning, developing, implementing, documenting and reviewing the system procedure in order to ensure that the right product, right quantity is in the right place at the right time and in the intended manner. All procedures have an impact (direct or indirect) on the product or service. A new concept of continuous improvement aims to set benchmarks against which performance should be measured (Russel & Margie, 1995).
Pretzels are snack foods with unique shapes and a hardy, shiny outer surface. The production of pretzels is machine intensive as it is in masses. Pretzels are considered healthy mainly because they are fat free. This has led to the growth in their market base thus realizing a whooping $560 million a year in the United States market alone. Pretzels are unique from their shape, texture, flavor and even the moisture level. The hard pretzels with low moisture level are more profound to the consumer as they have a longer a shell life as compared to the soft pretzels.
Pretzels are made by using pretzel dough. The main ingredients include, flour, yeast, water, sugar and shortening each of which have a significant impact on the end product (Heizer & Rende, 2011).
The bill of materials at times called BOM is a list of raw materials or inputs components, parts, and the quantities of each needed to manufacture the end product, in the case of pretzels their bill of materials would be as follows: flour might be the most important ingredient containing starch and protein. Gluten is a product of adding water to flour which can be stretched and as such facilitates pretzels to be made in unique shapes. The flour used in pretzels preparation is called soft wheat flour with 9% protein content. Flour accounts for 60- 75% in the dough and this is the key component in pretzel’s recipe. Yeast and leavening agents – yeast is put in dough to facilitate carbon dioxide production during fermentation. Leavening agents also assist in the metabolism during fermentation as in the presence of water they break down to produce carbon dioxide. Shortening – it is a form of solid vegetable fat and oil. It increases the volume, allows the dough to stay softer and also gives the pretzels the crumbly texture. Fat facilitates the dough to remain palatable for longer and as such accounts for 2- 3% in the dough recipe. Other important ingredients include water making up 30 – 35% of the dough recipe. Salt, sugar and flavorings are responsible for the pretzel’s taste. Salt accounts for 1%, sugar about 2% of the dough recipe (Hoseney & Carl, 1994).
Process strategy is a plan that aims to ensure that cost, quality and production flexibility are enhanced. Process strategy enhances the product to meet customer requirements and attain the forecasted cost and managerial goals. There are four main process strategies that can be used and they include: process focus, repetitive focus, product focus and mass customization. The process strategy mainly aims at low volume of output yet high variety (Booth & Gordon 1990).
Product focus is appropriate for the pretzel industry and can be depicted in form a flow chart as shown below:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Product focus – this essentially implies that facilities are organized by the product. The strategy entails high volume of output and low variety. The production runs involved are long in order to enhance efficiency. The product focus is machine intensive and thus suitable for pretzel production. This strategy also enhances a scenario of few similar inputs with the output varying in shape, size or packaging. Product focus is characterized by special purpose equipment and in essence, the pretzel production has ever since been by use of automated machinery. The pretzels production is faced by numerous standardization measures; this is also a key characteristic of the product strategy. This is because there are few new or unique orders and most instructions are the same. In the product focus strategy inventory levels are low. The product focus also enhances simple scheduling, establishing output rate to meet the forecast thus appropriate for the pretzel business (Heizer & Rende, 2011).
However, in the product focus fixed costs are quite high. A company adopting the product focus should ensure that it effectively attains over absorption of fixed costs. This will ensure that there is maximum utilization of the plant and as such guarantee higher returns. Also, an improvement in the pretzel making machine focusing on design hence, increasing baking capacity and speed at which pretzels are made (Booth & Gordon 1990).
Once the dough is an oven, it approximately takes 14 minutes to prepare 12 pretzels. The total time in producing the 12 pretzels = 36minutes.it thus takes 36/12=3minutes to produce a pretzel. Assuming 6hours are available at night then, 60*6=360 minutes. The total available production at night will be 360/3=120 pretzels. It takes 30minutes to complete an order of 6 pretzels. Hence 300/30*6=60 orders per day. The break even point (TC=TR) TR=$3*120/6=$60 while TC=$10. Hence, BEP 60/10=6.
Conclusion
Process strategy is a plan that aims to ensure that cost, quality and production flexibility are enhanced. In the production of pretzels, process strategy is implemented using the product focus.

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