CASE PROBLEM 4.1
Quality Control at Rainwater Brewery

Bob Raines and Megan Waters own and operate the Rainwater Brewery, a micro-brewery that grew out of their shared hobby of making home-brew. The brewery is located in Whitesville, the home of State University where Bob and Megan went to college.

Whitesville has a number of bars and restaurants that are patronized by students at State and the local resident population. In fact, Whitesville has the highest per capita beer consumption in the state. In setting up their small brewery, Bob and Megan decided that they would target their sales toward individuals who would pick up their orders directly from the brewery and toward restaurants and bars, where they would deliver orders on a daily or weekly basis.

The brewery process essentially occurs in three stages. First, the mixture is cooked in a vat according to a recipe; then it is placed in a stainless-steel container, where it is fermented for several weeks. During the fermentation process the specific gravity, temperature, and pH need to be monitored on a daily basis. The specific gravity starts out at about 1.006 to 1.008 and decreases to around 1.002, and the temperature must be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. After the brew ferments, it is filtered into another stainless-steel pressurized container, where it is carbonated and the beer ages for about a week (with the temperature monitored), after which it is bottled and is ready for distribution. Megan and Bob brew a batch of beer each day, which will result in about 1,000 bottles for distribution after the approximately three-week fermentation and aging process.

In the process of setting up their brewery, Megan and Bob agreed they had already developed a proven product with a taste that was appealing, so the most important factor in the success of their new venture would be maintaining high quality. Thus, they spent a lot of time discussing what kind of quality control techniques they should employ. They agreed that the chance of brewing a "bad," or "spoiled," batch of beer was extremely remote, plus they could not financially afford to reject a whole batch of 1,000 bottles of beer if the taste or color was a little "off" the norm. So they felt as if they needed to focus more on process control methods to identify quality problems that would enable them to adjust their equipment, recipe, or process parameters rather than to use some type of acceptance sampling plan.

Describe the different quality control methods that Rainwater Brewery might use to ensure good-quality beer and how these methods might fit into an overall TQM program.

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