The story of a bar of chocolate (Part I)
by Erica Keogh
WELCOME to what we statisticians hope will become the `best' among the rest. Inthis section we will aim to introduce readers to ``Statistics in Action''; in other words we will look at what Statistics has to offer Zimbabwe in this day and age and in the future, and at how essential Statistics has become to modern society. In addition, we will answer reader enquiries, problems, and so on. So let us begin by looking at Statistics in Action in Industry.
We will follow a bar of chocolate, from its very beginning to its sale and consumption. The beginning is the raw ingredients. How is Statistics useful at this stage?
- The raw materials have to be ordered from the suppliers. Thus a FORECAST has to be made of how much is going to be needed during a well-defined time period.
- The storekeeper has to keep track of how much is where at any moment in time. Thus INVENTORIES have to be maintained.
- As materials are delivered it may happen that lots of things arrive at once and require attention. Thus QUEUEING mechanisms have to be arranged.
- All raw materials have to be assessed to ensure their quality meets the specifications of the manufacturer. SAMPLING of these materials for testing has to be carried out.
- Assessing the quality of the sampled products required measuring aspects against certain predetermined standards. PROCESS CONTROL is needed to make decisions as to whether the standards are adhered to.
- Costing of the final product has to take into account the cost of the raw materials. ECONOMETRICS can assist in modelling the cost againstthe input variables and taking into account production costs, consumptionand so on.
So in simply considering the raw ingredients used in making a bar of chocolatewe have seen the usefulness of six areas of statistical expertise.
In the next article, we will move onto the factory floor and consider what happens there and how Statistics is of use during the manufacturing stages of the bar of chocolate.
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