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Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Case Study

The interaction between product quality and process quality is a complex one, whereby the quality of output is highly depended on the process quality. Process quality together with other factors such as manpower affects the processing time and the final end product.

A process is composed of various stages, which interactively influence each other.

In 2005 Harris faced the same problem of retaining the product quality at the same time improving on the production capacity as a result of speculations for demand increment of the chocolate Continuous attempts had been made in reducing the time allocation for each processing step in the Scharffen Berger chocolate maker but this led to great changes in the quality of the America’s best chocolate (Leff, 2005, p. 73).

The final decision was to come up with a new ball mill machinery all together. This machine would multiply the production speed at the conching processing stage and at the same time improve on the product’s texture.

It would also improve on the flavor of the product by ensuring that less sugar is lost during the long processing times. This big question had finally found an answer but greater challenges lay ahead of the company. This work summarizes the benefits of a quality process line in relation to the Scharffen Berger maker.

The case study shows clearly the link between quality of process and quality of products. All processing steps are equally important and slight changes in the time allocated or even some other settings would be very detrimental to the end product.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker consists of seven main processing steps among them is the bean cleaner which serves to clean up the beans before production. Poor working conditions of the bean cleaner can lead to chocolate production with poor flavor due to dirt leakages.

The other step is the roasting stage, which introduces the caramel flavor to the cocoa beans. Poor control of the roasting temperatures could lead to burning of the cocoa beans leading to poor quality products or even worse complete lose of the product.

From here the product goes to the melangeur stage, which is necessary for a smooth paste of cocoa (Perry & Ruffenach, 2008, p. 191). This stage highly defines the texture of the finished product a major quality parameter in chocolate production.

Conching is another processing step involved in Scharffen Berger chocolate making process. It involves further refining of the chocolate mass at the same time incorporating air into the mixture for better taste. This greatly influences the quality of the end product.

Tempering is the stage involved with the hardening of the chocolate mass and ensuring that the gloss is well maintained. For a chocolate to have viscosity the tempering stage has to be fully controlled.

The final stage in the chocolate manufacturing is the packaging stage, this serves to hold the final product and for display purposes. Quality packaging serves to attract more customers and sell the product in greater volumes.

In Scharffen Berger chocolate maker, quality of packaging is ensured by outsourcing 65% of the packaging and the other 35% is done from the company’s premises (Axelrod & Brumberg, 2006, p. 10).

Identify the capacity bottlenecks throughout the process

Three major issues face the Scharffen Berger chocolate makers, which are related to the level of output, that is, the need for expansion, bottlenecks and the economies of scale.

A bottleneck is an occurrence in which the output of a given processing system is restricted by one of the steps in the processing line or even the raw materials. In the Scharffen Berger chocolate maker the conche stage is one with such a holdup.

The production capacity of the conche whose function is to blend, purify and aerate the chocolate mass is 1344 kg per day, which is a limitation towards meeting the high demand of the product.

This can be solved by the use of a high capacity ball mill, which is said to be able to greatly reduce the throughput time and at the same time improve the texture of the final product.

The ball mill reduces the time used in the conching process alone from 40-60 hours to about 15 hours.

This means that the production efficiency would triple and the demands of the people would be met (Thompson, 2006, p. 73). The few hours used also would enhance the flavor of the chocolate as sugar degradation is minimized.

The introduction of the ball mill could also serve to introduce other bottlenecks in the preceding stages. The melangeur stage will also be able to handle the increment in the production capacity at the conching stage.

The production capacity at this stage can only be met by introducing three of such melangeurs. The costs of introducing the three melangeurs will surpass its benefits and therefore outsourcing this kind of services should be considered.

Tempering and molding stages should also be considered to see whether they can sustain the processing efficiency. These considerations may call for an expansion in the company’s premises making it to incur more costs.

The costs can then be transferred to the rest of the distribution channel and the greater impact is therefore felt by the consumers.

Another huddle to be solved is the outsourcing of the packaging materials. 65 % of the chocolate is packed by co packers. This poses a problem of the quality management for the product.

Quality control is made easier when products’ processing lines are continuous. The packers would also re-temper and re-melt the chocolate hence the need for quality control. This also adds on the processing time and the costs as some of the processes have to be done twice.

This could be solved by transporting the liquid chocolate to avoid reprocessing of the chocolate mass but this too is difficult due to the problems posed by the transportation of the liquid chocolate to the packers.

Assess the attractiveness of a high quality process development for a premium quality product

A high quality process development for a premium quality product is vital as best products are basically bought for their prestige. The development of a high quality process is advantageous to the organization, the whole distribution channel and the consumer at large.

Coupled with other factors such as ingredients quality, the effectiveness and the standards of formulation, development of a quality process determines the quality of end product.

The attractiveness of the end product determines its market value. A high quality premium product fetches more money and attracts quick sales. This translates to voluminous sales and high profits to all the members of the distribution channel.

Quality products from quality processes also build up the company’s name and this is the aspect of branding. Superior brands attract a lot of money in return as they are associated with quality and prestige. Also branding will help in product differentiation, which will ensure that the product stands the tests of time.

A quality process minimizes lose of products and raw materials due to failures. This ensures that profits are maximized and that less money is spend on the raw materials.

The savings in the cost of raw materials could be used to develop the company’s premises. Quality processes also increase efficiency of the production meaning that the output per any given time is maximized.

Another attracting feature on developing quality process is the aspect of reducing the manpower required. Some processes require a great number of people who can be reduced by developing of the processing lines.

Finally, a quality process ensures uniformity in products produced giving its customers a continuous and even taste. The satisfaction of every consumer is the main goal of any processor hence quality products are able to meet this goal.


From the case study it is evident that quality is core when it comes to any organization. The expansion of throughput by Scharffen Berger chocolate maker is mainly the quality variations upon reducing the process’s time of production in order to attain maximum output.

The conching stage of the Scharffen Berger Chocolate maker is the major bottleneck for capacity increment and the solution lies in the adoption of a ball mill. Process quality is equally important for quality products.

Premier products, which are associated with prestige, need to be of superior quality. The quality can only be ensured through development of a quality process which also serves to ensure maximum throughput of the company.


Axelrod, K., & Brumberg, B. (2006). Watch it made in the U.S.A.: A visitor’s guide to the best factory tours and company museums. New York, NY: Avalon Travel Publication.

Leff, J. (2005). The chowhound’s guide to the San Francisco Bay. New York, NY: Penguin Publishers.

Perry, S., & Ruffenach, F. (2008). Deep dark chocolate. New York, NY: Chronicle Books Publications.

Thompson, F. (2006). Hot chocolate: 50 heavenly cups of comfort. New York, NY: Harvard Common Press Publications.

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