While my group and I were assigned to pay attention to the planning of each company tour we had and how those operations planned and figured out the most efficient ways to put the best product forward, I really absorbed every single aspect of each company to allow me to see the larger picture. So, for each step of the supply chain journey I am now able to connect the relationship between planning and that certain step, no matter what the product is. Whether it be a fresh fruit, a coffee ground or a t-shirt, I feel confident in being able to expand on each step.
When focusing specifically on the coffee industry, the planning behind the farm and harvest is quite intricate. Because a coffee plant is planted three years before an actual coffee bean from that plant hits the shelves, the thinking behind these crops needs to be fool-proof. Whether the planning is covering the field layouts, seed suppliers or the harvest’s labor force, there is an immense amount of thought behind each decision. Also, with only growing a vast majority of one crop, there is planning that needs to go into what nutrients the farmers will put into the soil so the ground is not in a nutrient deficit. There needs to be lengthy consideration before putting anything into the ground or even clearing the ground because of the long process coffee undergoes, it is a full commitment.
Processing Mills and Exporters
The planning that goes into this sector can go in a couple directions. When focusing on processing mills, I think of the majority of the planning as making sure the machines and people work efficiently. This means that the process is clean, methodical and orderly while still being simple as to not steer from the tried and true methods from previous eras. But if we were to shift towards exportation, this planning is more business oriented in my mind. Planning behind which transportation and exportation company to contract with or to begin your own are important decisions to make in order to keep your process running fluidly. I have learned that whichever leans you decide to focus through, there needs to communication between the two in order answer to the forward contracts your business has put in place with customers and make sure your business flourishes.
(Gorgeous gorgeous Monteverde)
Coffee Roasters, Retail Stores and Cafés
Now, the planning behind this supply chain aspect is also mainly business oriented as well. Though, if you wanted to see in a engineering perspective, an industrial engineer would be the way to go (me), as we work to make processes and mechanics more efficient. And with both sides of learning now I can see that the planning behind a company’s marketing can make or break their future success. Café Britt is one company that I can tell puts a lot of thought into this step. Our presentation there was one where the presenter told us that they put a lot of thought into where their store is going and decorating in a way to bring the locals or travelers in. By combining local landmarks and the country’s colors into their stores, their sales climb by simply coloring a wall a color of a country’s flag. There is so many small decisions that can make a big impact on a business’ profitable outcome, which is why the planning can be in regards to something so miniscule but have a large effect.
Now, this could arguably be one of or the most important part of a supply chain. There is no need for a supply chain if there is not a customer base. Whether they are loyal customers or travelers seeing a Café Britt shop in the airport, the business needs to think about and plan how their bag of coffee is getting in the hands of a potential customer. Whether this is manifested in planning to offer an array of products–blends, bag sizes, accessories and more–or planning how to make the product appealing to the eye of a passerby, there is so much that can go into it.
(Pretend I am smiling, I promise I am on the inside!)
But overall, when we think about a supply chain for coffee specifically, there are so many complex components that need to come together in order to get our favorite French roast in our hands. The planning behind everything is the first step that happens for each level of the supply chain because you cannot go in blind to a elaborate and worshiped agricultural product and expect yourself to do well. All that I have learned is extremely valuable in getting the worldly point of view I so badly desired at the beginning of this trip, which will take me miles in every part of my future.
For now, saying goodbye to the 506 and heading back to my 513. ¡Pura Vida, Costa Rica!
(Fútbol! Go Alejuela!)