Flexibility at Godiva Chocolatier
Flexibility at Godiva Chocolatier
The world-famous chocolate maker, Godiva Chocolatier, is situated right in the heart of Brussels, Europe’s centre of quality chocolate manufacturing. Godiva is a relatively small producer which makes more than 100 different chocolates and packs them in a vast range of cartons and bulk packs. Over the last 10 years, the company has invested to achieve improvements in productivity through automation, but at the same time to ensure that flexibility is built in at every stage of production. There are two basic methods of production used at Godiva: enrobing and moulding.
Enrobed products begin as extruded strips of hard fillings such as marzipan, which are cut into short pieces and passed through a machine which coats them in liquid chocolate. The enrobing department operates by linking together the various pieces of equipment (extruders, guillotines, depositors, enrobers, decorators, etc.) in different sequences and combinations to suit the individual product designs. Sometimes, where the volumes justify the effort involved in repositioning them, this is done by using moveable conveyors to make the link between the machines. Otherwise, the products are transferred around as required in plastic trays, allowing the equipment (and the skilled staff) to be decoupled and thereby to work at different speeds and times. Only small tanks of liquid chocolate are used at the enrobing machines so that changeovers can be fast. Typically it takes only 20 minutes to disconnect the tank and clean out the enrobing machine prior to starting another colour. Because of the wide variety of products, planning is complex, with the sequence of products being critical to productivity and quality. Normally, it is considered uneconomic to produce less than 300 kg of a particular colour of chocolate, but where possible, longer runs of different products with the same chocolate coating are planned, so that the colour change can be carried out at the end of the day’s production.
Most moulded products are produced on a new and complicated 80 metre long production line, which was designed to handle almost the full range of moulded products. It can mould all three colours with a 20 minute changeover of the liquid chocolate. These are normally done only at the end of a day’s production. Moulds can be changed without stopping the line using a simple operator-assisted device. Filling the shells with creams, fondants, etc. is carried out using computer-controlled depositing machines. Three of these depositors are available, allowing one or two to be in use while the third is moved aside for cleaning, programming and setting-up with the next batch of filling. It is possible, therefore, to change product in under one minute, and to use two depositors simultaneously for products where nuts or cherries are to be incorporated in the middle of creams. After demoulding, the chocolates can be routed to an automatic individual wrapping machine, but most are conveyed directly to a packing robot which picks and places the products on blister packs for bulk sales to shops, or on flat plastic trays for transfer to the assortment packing lines.
The most flexible part of the operation is the assortment packing section. Here, the finished chocolates are packed according to the appropriate mix and positions in the various retail cartons. These pass along a conveyor where each individual chocolate is added to the pack by hand. Although it is technically possible for this to be done by a robot, Godiva engineers have found that people are less expensive and can also continuously inspect the quality of every chocolate packed. Many of the staff are also very adept at adding value-added features to the packaging, such as ribbons, bows and labels.
1 Why is flexibility so important to a company like Godiva?
2 What does the company appear to have done to enhance its flexibility?
Flexibility at Godiva Chocolatier Short Case Flexibility at Godiva Chocolatier The world-famous chocolate maker, Godiva Chocolatier, is situated right in the heart of Brussels, […]