Lab 4: Easing Ira’s Ire
(See “Due Dates for Assignments & Exams” in the Syllabus for due dates.)
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Ira Pollack was difficult to work for. A self-made millionaire, he paid extremely high salaries, but demanded much from his subordinates, including being on call 24-hours per day. In his Las Vegas penthouse, he would study and re-study each detail of his conglomerate’s performance and then call some unlucky underling—at any hour—to vent his anger and demand that something be improved. His tantrums were legendary.
One of Pollack’s underlings, Tamara Wood, was driving her new red Mercedes convertible along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, looking for a parking space. Her college class from Northern Illinois University at DeKalb was holding its fifth reunion in Chicago, which she planned to attend. She wanted to buy a new outfit for the event, to show her former classmates that she had arrived. A chauffeur-driven Rolls pulled away from the curb, leaving an empty space right in front of her favorite couturier. She swung her Mercedes expertly into the empty space, looked up, and was pleased to see that there was still nearly an hour left on the meter. “Daddy was right,” she thought to herself, “Clean living does pay off.”
As she turned off the ignition, Tamara’s cell phone started buzzing. Wood hesitated. Would it be John, calling to thank her for that wonderful evening? Would it be Matt, seeing if she were free to spend next weekend on Catalina Island? Or maybe it was Jason, who was always wanting her to accompany him to Waikiki. She finally picked up the phone and sweetly said, “Hello.”
“Don’t ‘hello’ me!” shouted a man’s voice at the other end.
Wood’s stomach churned, her muscles tightened, and she said, weakly, “Sorry, Mr. Pollack, I was expecting somebody else.”
“That’s obvious,” he retorted. “At this hour of the day, you’re on my time and should be thinking of business. How come you’re not in the office?”
“I’m just making a customer service follow-up,” responded Wood, hoping that Mr. Pollack would not ask for too many details.
“Well, you should be worried about customer service,” said Pollack. “That’s why I’ve called. I’ve been studying performance records for all my operations dealing with the amount of time that elapses between our receipt of an order and when our customer receives a shipment. The performance of your distribution center in West Hollywood stinks! Drop what you’re doing and get back to your office and figure out what’s wrong! Then tell me what’s needed to speed up your operation. Call me as soon as you have answers.”
Wood heard the phone click. She forgot about DeKalb. She forgot about Chicago and the new outfit. She forgot about her night with John, about Catalina Island and Waikiki. She heard a faint beep to her left. She saw a maroon Jaguar with a Beverly Hills matron motioning with one of her white-gloved hands as if to say, “If you’re leaving, may I have your parking spot?”
Muttering to herself, she pulled into her reserved slot next to the West Hollywood distribution center. “Aloha!” chirped Ellen Scott, her assistant, as she walked in. “Jason has called three times about wanting you to fly to Hawaii. Also, you have two calls from John, one from Matt, one from your mother, who asked why you never phone her, and one from some fellow who wouldn’t leave his name, but said it was very personal. Tell me about the outfit you bought. I’ll bet it’s stunning.”
“Forget about them, and hold all my calls,” said Wood, crisply. “I’m not going anywhere. Pollack called me and is mad because our order processing and delivery times are out of whack.”
Two days passed. Wood had put her social life on hold and had not even phoned her mother. All her time was spent trying to figure out how to speed up her order-processing system. But she didn’t know how to start. The accuracy of the system was not an issue, although additional costs could be. When Pollack paid his bonuses last year, he had told Wood that if her operation had cost one cent more to run, she would not have receive a bonus. Because her bonus had paid for her new Mercedes, Wood was cost-conscious, to say the least.
Wood’s assistant helped her, too—at least through late Friday afternoon. Scott explained that she couldn’t work on Saturday and Sunday because she’d accepted an invitation to spend the weekend at Catalina Island with an unnamed friend. Before Scott left, she and Wood had decided that there were 12 distinct operations involved in processing and shipping orders. Some could be performed at the same time, whereas others had to be performed in sequence—that is, one could not be started until the other was completed. (These tasks, the amount of time it takes to complete each, and the sequential relationships, if any, are shown in Exhibit 11-A.)
After compiling the information shown in Exhibit 11-A, Scott left. Wood was left with the task of trying to relate all those tasks to each other. She recalled a college textbook that she had never much cared for but that she had come across a few weeks earlier as she was searching for her Northern Illinois University yearbook. Wood looked at a PERT chart in that book and knew that she would have to construct something similar to analyze the distribution center’s order processing and shipping operations. She studied the text accompanying the chart, sighed, and thought to herself, “Where was I or at least where was my mind—the day the professor explained all of this in class?
This week’s lab consists of five questions. Please be certain you answer all the questions and address all the areas outlined in the grading below.
L A B S T E P S
Step 1: PERT Chart
Question 1: Arrange the tasks shown in Exhibit 11-A in a network or PERT chart.
Step 2: Critical Path
Question 2: Determine the critical path. What is the least amount of time it takes between receipt of an order and its delivery to a customer?
Step 3: Risk
Question 3: Considering your answers to questions 1 and 2, what areas of activity do you think Wood should look at first, assuming she wants to reduce order-processing and delivery times? Why?
Step 4: Order Picker
Question 4: Now that she’s a Californian ready for the race down the information superhighway, Wood wants to be able to impress Pollack with her knowledge of current technology. Recently, a sales representative from a warehouse equipment company called, trying to interest her in installing a Star Wars—Robotic” order picker for the warehouse. Controlled by lasers and powered by magnetic levitation, the device can pick orders (task H) in 15 minutes, rather than 6 hours (0.75 day), the current time needed. How valuable would such a device be to Wood? Why?
Step 5: Faster Transportation
Question 5: Another alternative is to use faster transportation. How should Wood choose between paying more for faster transportation and paying more for other improvements? Assume that her only goal is speed.
Step 6: Final Step
Submit your completed assignment to the this week’s Lab Dropbox in a MS Word document for grading. The cover page should adhere to the APA 6.0 guideline