MICA Dining Hall: Debottlenecking Operations
(6 pages of text)
In July 2018, MICA, Ahmedabad, one of the leading management institutions in India, was experiencing bottlenecks in its dining hall that were delaying regular operations during peak lunch hours. The lunch break was for about 75 minutes between classes. The dining hall catered to 480 people at any given time—not only students but also faculty members and other MICA staff. After eating lunch at the dining hall, many students had to rush to post-lunch class sessions, and they risked missing attendance. Most faculty members had zero tolerance for late entrants. A MICA faculty member from the business management area was entrusted with studying the situation, determining the cause for delay, and proposing remedial measures. He needed to identify the weakest link in the chain and then propose an infusion of resources that would buffer this constraint, thereby reducing the total time students and other members of the MICA community spent in the dining hall during lunch hours.
The case can be used in a postgraduate-level course or in executive programs on production and operations management, or supply chain management. The case can be used to discuss debottlenecking processes, the theory of constraints, and the drum-buffer-rope technique. It can also be used to demonstrate the process of identifying constraints in a systematic manner and improving system throughput. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Identify process bottlenecks and improve process performance.
- Analyze the performance of a system and identify the bottlenecks through the theory of constraints.
- Apply the drum-buffer-rope technique in enhancing system performance.
- Identify the weakest link (drum) in the chain most affecting the performance of the system at any given point in time.
- Allocate resources (buffer) to the weakest link at the right time and for the right duration (rope).
India, Medium, 2018
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