The peak growing season for oranges is just three months out of the year. In spite of that, Coca-Cola has used computer technology to refine and automate every single aspect of manufacturing orange juice to ensure a consistent product every day of the year. This proprietary methodology is tagged Black Book and it is an algorithm. Duane D. Stanford describes its astounding complexity (Coke Has a Secret Formula for Orange Juice, Too Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/4/132/10/13, pp. 1921):
The Black Book model includes detailed data about the myriad flavorsmore than 600 in allthat make up an orange, and consumer preferences. Those data are matched to a profile detailing acidity, sweetness, and other attributes of each batch of raw juice. The algorithm then tells Coke how to blend batches to replicate a certain taste and consistency, right down to pulp content. (p. 19)
The entire process from orange grove to grocery aisle is thoroughly modeled via Black Book. This allows additional factors to be considered such as changes in weather patterns, crop yields, and economics. When these additional factors produce a curveball, Black Book can replan the process in less than 11 minutes to ensure no pipeline interruptions or downtime for up to 15 months.
Needless to say, this is an excellent example of an industry leader using technology to optimize production. The good news is you dont have to be an industry leader to use technology. Anything and everything you do as a businessperson should be studied to determine whether technological enhancements are an option. Technology cant save you money unless you use it.
Well, I dont think I can ever again taste orange juice in quite the same way. Is it breakfast time yet?
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