Process and Throughput Optimization: Applications in the Pizza Industry

Project: Analyze and learn fundamental concepts such as flow, throughput, response time, and quality in the fast/casual food sector.

Pizza has become such a staple in the United States, and indeed around the world, that it’s hard for many people to imagine life without it!  However, pizza is not just about that cheesy goodness and our taste buds; it’s also serious business. To successfully operate a pizza chain, or any fast/casual food chain for that matter, we must not only have good and tasty products that the consumers crave but a solid and reliable supply chain extending all the way from the suppliers to hundreds of individual outlets where the food is stored, prepared, and sold to the end customer.  Provided all the ingredients and supplies are delivered to the stores in a timely and reliable manner, the next critical component in the system is the operation of the store itself:

  • What is the process of making pizza?
  • How and where is the dough prepared?
  • How many people are needed and how do we allocate the work among them?
  • Where is the bottleneck and how does it impact our throughput?
  • How do we deal with variations in demand?
  • How do we define and control quality?
  • What is the impact and role of IT (such as the Domino’s Pizza Tracker®)?

The above questions form the foundation of flow, throughput, and labor concerns in Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE).  How well we address them often defines the difference between success and failure. 

In this section, we will learn how to build models to answer the above questions and learn how to analyze and optimize the store operations. We will also learn how a powerful concept known as “Lean Thinking” in IOE that can be applied to optimize the flow and deliver perfect value to the customers on a consistent basis. We will use a real Domino’s pizza store as a basis of our analysis and discussions, although we will also consider important extensions such as the Little Caesars’ Hot-N-Ready® concept.