Elizabeth’s country wares
Written case analysis
Problem Identification and Relevant Issues & Facts
Elizabeth Hines is the owner and operator of Elizabeth’s Country Wares (ECW), a decorative country house wares and ceramic pottery business based in Woodstock, Ontario. She targets those with middle to upper levels of income as she believes that her products are not only unique but also functional. For example, her early product line included dinnerware, bowls, mugs and pitchers. In addition, she produces similar themes, including “burst”, “appleburst” and “heartburst”, throughout her products so that her customers can collect pieces with similar designs for their homes over the time, ...view middle of the document...
It starts with the “greenware” stage in which the first part-time worker forms the moist clay which will be able to hold its own weight. Next, any extra clay is cut off from its edges as the clay is still soft and it is set on a shelf to dry. Any imperfections are removed in this stage. After the clay has dried, Hines paints on the design and sponge paints the border on using underglaze. The pieces are then put carefully into the kilns. Once the kilns become full, they are fired overnight to further harden the clay. Once the kiln has cooled for several hours the CP’s are unloaded and glazed by the second part time worker and the worker applies two coats to the entire outside of piece. Hines started ECW from her house basement and still uses that as her sole work space. Within the space she has only two kilns, which provides an issue from an efficiency point of view due to the fact that when the kilns run, other activities cannot be done causing a direct effect on ECW’s capacity. This process will not suffice when Hines wants to increase capacity. A more efficient process would be a line process which can be used for routine work with few major products and a higher volume.
It is critical to determine whether the current capacity of each process for CPs will meet the forecasted demand in the coming year in order to ensure continuing business performance. It is mentioned in the operations part of the case that production of ECW’s CPs use three major procedures which will be done by two part-time hourly workers and as well as Hines. In looking at availability of work, the part-time workers’ time availability is not provided explicitly, however, Hines’ working time is given as only eight hours per week to CP production due to the time constraint issue for other product lines and businesses. In order to generate the capacity of CP production and to examine the current capacity in comparison with the future forecasted demand, we assume both part-time workers are able to work eight hours a day, five days a week. In addition, we assume there are four weeks for each of the 12 months for the coming year. Based on the above assumption, the capacity of CP production for each of the three major processes are as follows.
We will assume that the annual available working time for each part-time worker is 1920 hours per year (See Exhibit 1). With this in mind we can then calculate that the greenware process capacity, in which it takes 20 minutes for the worker to produce one CP. As such the greenware process has the capacity to produce 5,760 CPs per year (Exhibit 2). In addition, the painting and loading process takes 12.5 minutes and has the capacity to produce 1,843 CPs per year (See Exhibit 3).
After painting, Hines will load the unfinished CPs into the kilns, the CPs will be fired overnight and be cooled for a few hours. There are 2 kilns available, one which can be used for 90 days per year and the other for 140 days per year, and each kiln can carry...