Inventory Systems III
If you like, you can jump back over to one of the main conclusions from those pages about inventory systems by clicking here.
Some other places to jump to:
New Transaction Set for Making Manufacturing Database Systems Haystack-compatible
Here are some examples of transaction steps along with additional information about the internal structure of the pSBDSds memory object:
a. The traditional transactions that entered a new Sales or Stock Order line item into the Orders file will be modified to also add the sales or stock order object (sssO) and, if it’s not already in the pSBDSds object, the product network object (pnO) for the part to be shipped. The product network object contains the processing step objects (psO), connecting arrow objects (caO), and raw material (and purchased part objects (maybe, rmppO?) that represent the material and processing requirements for the part. Another possible name could be material and process network object (mpnO). If the mpnO for the product identifier for the order line item already exists in the pSBDSds, it is not duplicated. An arrow object (an arrow) is added to connect the existing product network to the new order line item. If the final process steps are unique to the product, yet it uses “common parts” (i.e., it has parts in common with other products at any or all of the manufactured part, raw material, or purchased part levels), the unique steps are added and connected with arrows to the common parts. That completes the transaction of adding the new order line item and its product structure to the pSBDSds located (in our “layers within main memory” model) on the second layer, the first layer of glass over the canvas. The order will need to be flagged as “unscheduled” or “not yet scheduled.” The order is “scheduled” in the sense that it has, somehow, been assigned a due date. But nothing at this point has been done to allocate/claim stocks at any level, or to create net requirements batch orders at processing steps, to claim/allocate raw material and purchase parts, or to schedule material release. Unless it has. By that smart-ass comment, I mean that the conceptual and programming solution for adding new orders could be done a lot of ways. This will give Apics members, system vendors, and professors lots of things to write Apics technical papers about. In other words, programmers could provide tools to allow the user to reflect the effects of the new order through the schedule, stocks, and plant somehow before the due date is promised. Or they marketing group could just take the order, give a promise date for any of a LOT of reasons in real life (beat competition, not make important customer mad, please important customer, get a premium, using simple posted delivery intervals, and more), and then either incremental schedule with some conceptual and programming solutions to be determined. Or just let the new order await the full Identify Exploit Subordinate re-schedule. This will be where a LOT of value is added from continued thinking and innovation. There will be universally-applicable (all or most factories), widely-applicable (broad plant/product types), and narrowly-applicable (specific product type) solutions.
Procedures will need to be thought through and added for various ways the new product gets added to the schedule. (e.g., just add the order with quantity and due date to the schedule … issues … claiming stocks … and timing material release … effect on schedule of drums … reference times for shipping, assembly, and constraint(s) buffers … one scenario: the process of promising the order gave it a place in a drum/constraint schedule … scenario: order just promised based on standard published leadtimes without looking at actual current schedule … scenario: one customer on waiting list, willing to pay premium or is just good customer, on basis of “in case others cancel, i’d like it as early as …” and another does cancel …
Changing allocation basis doesn’t make allocation-based costing a right thing to do
We TOC guys and gals take every opportunity to bash allocation-based product costs for decisions, including making enough of a fuss to make sure everybody listening to us knows that we disagree with the claim often made by many in the activity-based costing community, that shifting from direct labor basis to activity basis for allocation makes allocation for product costs a good thing to do. It doesn’t.
Activity-based stuff for decisions — the ABC way vs. the TOC way
Moral of the story ahead: It’s not a bad thing to understand a few unavoidable important basic things about the effects, if any, of company decisions — concerning product, volume, mix, and other things — on the “activities” and “tasks” that are performed in the several “staff” “overhead” “OE” areas and departments of the company (i.e, other than direct production labor). In fact, that’s a very good, important, and — for a comprehensive planning and decisions framework (vs. a few recurring and also important more incremental decisions) — essential thing.
It’s a standard application of cause-and-effect thinking in any TOC company, or should be. It flows clearly and logically and pretty much unavoidably from TOC’s vintage late 80’s and early 90’s “throughput world and T I OE scale of importance and measurements” principles. It’s explicitly articulated, among other places, in the first Detective Columbo skit in chapter 6 of my book. It’s a fundamental aspect of the TVA-I-I-OE-Cash further detailing of the same ideas in these blog pages. Knowing the effects of decisions on activity levels in overhead staff departments funded in the OE line items of a period or multi-period TVA-I-I-OE-Cash planning framework is standard stuff, or should be, in any company using TOC.
Those few unavoidable important basic things to know about the effects of company decisions on staff activity levels are (1) whether existing (or forecast) staff levels are likely to be able to handle the various mixes of activities created by a set of decisions (or scenario assumptions) or not and (2) if not, how much it will cost to get more staff to handle the work the decisions in the scenario will create (or, if considering a product line removal decision, where staff people can’t or won’t be re-deployed or otherwise retained and still paid, the reduction in period OE line item expense). The salary and benefits effects of adding or laying off staff are pretty easy to know almost exactly, so let’s know those in as much detail and precision as is easy to have. We’re not opposed to accuracy and precision, only to wasting time, diverting attention from important real issues, and increasing risk of mistakes by chasing after the illusion of greater accuracy and precision. The effects on activities need only be known at an approximate level, not on a finely-detailed basis. In fact, except for highly-routinized support functions like some telemarketing call centers, the effects of decisions on the details of activities in staff departments can most often only be known at an approximate level (i.e., acknowledging the reality of how different the details can be without having company-level effects of the department becoming a constraint to production or sales, of hiring new staff people, or of laying off staff people). This rough approximate level of detail of effects on staffing requirements needs to be known and used intelligently whether the company (a) uses no allocations of overhead to products for decisions and direct labor allocations for external GAAP and tax reporting (TOC), or (b) uses direct labor basis for allocations for both decisions and reporting (pre-TOC and pre-ABC pre-1990s old-style), or (c) uses activity basis for allocations for both decisions and reporting (activity-based costing, or ABC, in the 90s and beyond).
On the other hand, it’s a real bad idea to move FROM, as stated above, (1) simply knowing the important overall levels of effects of decisions on staff activities and (2) knowing the existing or base case period OE expenditure, and the quantum step changes in period OE from adding or laying off staff people … that was the “FROM” … so it’s a bad to move FROM that TO any or all of the following big, expensive, wasteful, and, well non-value-activity-adding mistakes: (a) [having people get further into the details and write reports describing a static model full of assumptions of what’s going on in the department … there’s a way to do process improvement right and lots of ways to do it wrong, waste time, and create frustration], (b) thinking that changing from direct labor basis to activity basis for allocating overhead “fixes” the “direct labor basis” problem and makes a single set of numbers workable for both internal decisions and external reporting, (c) [creating a “cost per purchase order” or a “cost per transaction”], (d) [somehow breaking the period expenditures for the staff department into pieces and forcing the pieces over onto units of forecast units of various products, (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i).
So much for adding a “the moral of the story” update. Now for the story, the original verbalization/discussion …
We TOC guys and gals prefer to use the expression, “cause-and-effect analysis of a decision’s effect on the OE line,” instead of “activity analysis,” to define what we mean by “activity analysis” and to suggest what anybody using the term, “activity analysis,” should mean by it. We do that because it makes a more clear point of what should be done. There are many ways to waste time or make mistakes when doing, “activity analysis.” There’s a tendency to implicitly and simplistically approach it as if saying, “Let’s just do some ‘activity analysis’ today and see if we can find any ‘waste’ or ‘non-value-added activity’ today, shall we?” Well, “waste” or ‘nva’ with respect to what context, or plan of action? Some things are clear waste. Putting cash into a shredder is a waste. Many, probably most, are not so clear. Even if 3 people are standing around doing nothing for a while, which one could argue is waste, what’s the context? Are they the only 3 people in a team with skills or certifications or licenses to do a 1-hour task that’s holding up a $10,000,000 job, but they can’t do that task until 12 other people do what they need to do and, if you send the 3 specialists home, so you don’t have to pay them $600 for 2 hours of standing around, you might spend $25,000 the next day because you’re holding up an expensive machine waiting for the first 3 guys who got stuck in traffic to get back It’s good to work smart to avoid waste. It’s bad to let accounting systems and concepts push you into doing things that are stupid.
Let’s make the situation a little more ordinary.
Let’s look at Nuggets Incorporated. Admittedly, a comical story. Unreal in many respects. But real in others. One situation that’s arising in year 4 is that Judy and her pals are planning to have Ted, the shipping and receiving department person, receive and ship about 1100 items in year 4 when the most he’s handled before is 200 units in years 1 and 3. In year 1, 200 units were built, sold, and shipped. In year 3, the 200 units were build, but never sold and shipped. If we walked into shipping and receiving in year 1 and did “activity analysis” on how Ted used his time, we might decide to change his job to part-time because he had spare time. If we go there now, before year 4, activity forecasting — or cause-effect analysis on the decision being considered for year 4 — might say we not only need him full time, but he needs to hire an assistant.
“Activities” or “Tasks” Consume Time of OE/”Overhead”/”Staff” People The good thing about “activity analysis” is it creates ways of estimating how business decisions are going to effect staffing levels in various areas of the business. “Cause-effect analysis” does that too. The problem with calling that, “activity analysis,” instead of “cause-effect analysis,” is that “activity analysis” has become stained (that can be fixed by something like saying, “TOC-style activity analysis”) with the momentum and habit expectation of going from knowing how business decisions effect staffing needs to suddenly and abruptly and illogically and irreversibly shifting focus on calculating things like “cost per transaction,” “cost per received item,” “cost per shipped item,” all of which somebody then wants to allocate on some basis to some product. And we’re back into the loop of, not only knowing the real effects on real money of decisions (that part of the work is good), but also overlaying calculated fictional unreal numbers that waste time in creating them, give changing values from varying business assumptions, and have to redone for each set of assumptions (that part of the work is not good). And we’ve again taken our eye off the ball of true business decision and money cause-and-effect and are fooling around trying to create, understand, and re-do numbers instead of focusing on what products, with what features, for what customers, with what kind of selling strategies, etc.
Activity Analysis and Activity Based Costing for Ted, the Nuggets Inc Shipping and Receiving Department Person
Let’s see what happens with our new friend, Ted, the shipping and receiving (s/r) department person at Nuggets Incorporated. In year 1, the company (a) received materials for 100 G and 100 H products, (b) sent parts out to outside processing for 100/100, (d) received outside servicing parts back for 100/100, (e) packaged and shipped for 100 G and 100 H products, and (f) stockroom activity, and (g) purchasing activity. Total of 200 products. You can see there are 7 “activities” there.
Ted is paid the usual Nuggets Incorporated $60k salary and $15k benefits for a total of $75k per year. No matter how much or how little Ted works on the above 7 activities — unless we fire him, lay him off, reduce his wages, make him part-time instead of full-time, (none of which we’re going to do) or pay him over time or hire somebody to help him (which we will do if company decisions make it impossible for Ted to keep up) — Ted will cost the company $75k.
At this point, we have a choice to make. Choice (1) is just know we have $75,000 to cover with TVA money from sales to pay for Ted and put Judy, Patrick, Freddie, and Harry to work on a plan that will generate enough money to do that or (2) do (1) plus, even though we’re not going to do anything with the numbers — anything like set prices with them, or change Ted’s hours, or hire more people to help Ted — work out the math, using a combination of facts and assumptions, that will let us take pieces of that $75,000 and allocate it to the numbers of units of product G and H that are forecast/assumed to be built and sold in each year as part of building the “fully-allocated product cost” of G and H. If (2) sound familiar, it should. It means we will get a different amount we’re supposed to allocate to the unit product costs for G and H for each different volume and mix assumption we make.
Choice (1) is clearly the right choice. But that’s just my opinion, right? How bad can choice (2) be, you say, right? How bad can choice (2) be if MOST OF THE GODDAM ACCOUNTING EXPERTS ARE TELLING THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY AROUND THE WORLD THAT CHOICE (2) IS THE RIGHT CHOICE? Right. Stop shouting. I know. so let’s have a look at choice (2) as it applies to Nuggets Incorporated and our new friend, Ted.
Ted costs $75,000 per year whether he does nothing, works 25% of his time on shipping and receiving, 50%, 75%, 90%, 95%, 98%, or 99% on shipping and receiving. We know it won’t be 100%. The man has to go to the bathroom sometimes. Actually, we know it’s not 99% because he also does the purchasing — placing purchase orders, getting prices, etc, purchasing agent stuff. We know it’s not 95% because he goes to meetings sometimes and to required management and sensitivity training sometimes during the workday, gets drop-by visitors like Freddie to talk things over, gets visited and called on the phone by salespeople who want to sell stuff to Nuggets Inc, and so forth. There’s no way to get an exact number for this. It’s possible to get an exact number for the previous year if Ted kept a detailed log of every minute of his time. People don’t do that. Their bosses say, “this is your job” and evaluate them on their results. But even if Ted had a detailed log of his time, his time in the coming year might be different. Less new purchase parts to research. Or more. Lower volume. Higher volume. What Ted can do is sit down by himself — or with an expensive activity-based product costing consultant — make a list of the major things that take up his time and make broad rough estimates of how much each type of activity takes. On a total hours basis. Or probably % basis. For some things, like doing the purchasing job, it will be a combination of “well, i don’t know, maybe 7 hours on the phone and researching stuff a week” and also things like, “well, for a typical purchase order, it takes me about 53 minutes from the time I start looking around for a purchase order form (or, these days, getting into my computer to create a new purchase order number) … oh, but that’s unless I need signature approval in which case I have to print it out and take it over to the company secretary for the president’s signature … or unless I have more than one supplier …” So there is “globs of time” types of time and there are “recurring transactions that often take a minimum time but sometimes more and sometimes a LOT more” time.
All staff positions in the Operating Expense line items are like this. (If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be “overhead” “staff” positions, they be handled like direct labor. But even direct labor isn’t always just the simple repetitive tayloristic nature some accountants try to treat it like) The activity-based accounting experts will give you the impression that these time elements can be estimated well. They can’t. Not well enough for what they’re trying to do with them which is allocate pieces of this “blobs of time” and “recurring task time” somehow to form pieces of allocation-based product costs.
But that was for Ted’s purchasing-like time, which was some, who knows what percentage of his “available time”. Now we have his “receiving” activity. Here we get another “volume” estimate to add on top of the other volume estimates. This time it’s the volume of parts arrivals. The number of little boxes that arrive. Some months there are less. Some months or days there are more. Now we take a percent of Ted’s time to be available for non-bathroom and non-meeting work, take a percentage of that for receiving, and that “% of a %” we now divide into another set of percents for various categories of “glob time” and “recurring transaction/task time.”
Next, we’re going to do what we’ve just done for the purchasing percent of Ted’s time, and the receiving part of his time, and do it again for outside services processing shipping and receiving activities, and then again for the shipping to customers activity, and — oh, here’s one we forgot, storeroom management activities — we need to handle the time for handling the storeroom for inventories and other storeroom activities.
All these estimates and assumptions we make for Ted’s time, including assumptions about how our product volume and mix will effect it, will help us carve up Ted’s “glob times” and “recurring task/transaction times” to put pieces of Ted’s $75,000 onto the product costs for products G and H.
How do you like activity-based costing (ABC) so far?
Pop quiz: How’s your confidence level so far in the need for and value of and accuracy of and non-arbitraryness of these “activity-based allocations” of Ted’s time and cost to “full product costs”?
Now if we ever add a product J, K, L, or M, we will have to re-d0 all the numbers so we can carve Ted’s SAME SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS THAT WE HAVE TO COVER ANYWAY WITH SALES AND TVA MONEY into different sets of little pieces of different sizes to create another chapter in the story of the shifting sands of the arbitrary fictional assumption-laded allocation-based product costs for G H J K L and M.
The company may be able to avoid recalc of pieces of Ted’s SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND THAT NEVER CHANGES THROUGHOUT ALL THESE MACHINATIONS for the new Open Sesame product since it’s really Product H, but THEY WILL STILL NEED TO RECALC FOR THE DIFFERENCES IN ACTIVITY BETWEEN YEAR 1 AND YEAR 3 SINCE NO SHIPPING HAPPENED IN YEAR 3 AND BIG CHANGES BETWEEN THOSE 100/100 VOLUMES AND THE 200/200 ‘BASECASE” AND 1168 CASES FOR YEAR 4 …
Why do managements let accountants do this to them for decisions?
Answer because they have to let accountants do SOMETHING to them for GAAP and tax reports in the area of allocation and they get bullied or fail to understand they don’t have to let reporting screw up how they do internal decisions. It’s been 20 years now this information has been clear and in the public domain, so, by now, if you know your ass from a hole in the ground, you know allocation isn’t necessary or helpful for decisions. So, for external reports, where allocation is required, you don’t do the extra work of activity-based to have less-wrong numbers, you do direct labor for reports because it’s simpler and it’s wrong anyway, and you don’t use allocations at all for decisions. Since you’re not using allocations for decisions, you don’t get persuaded that, since you’re using one system for both internal and external, better to use activity based because activity based is more trouble, but less wrong. Well, if you don’t try to use the same numbers for both internal decisions and external required reporting, you don’t get sucked into that falacious argument for going ABC.
Activity based costing (ABC) was big money for consultants and accountants and accountants selling billions of dollars of systems consulting, integration, education, and implementation services. ABC was not needed by managements. But many managements were listening to the wrong voices.
Ted costs $75,000 per year and has to be paid for with TVA from sales no matter how we slice and dice and divide and allocate his time in hours and his monetized time somehow to products. He costs that much across the full range of utilization from doing nothing to spending every minute on tasks he’s responsible for.
When company decisions create so much activity that Ted can no longer handle it, THAT’S WHEN THE REAL MONEY EFFECT HAPPENS, when the new person gets hired to help Ted. So the task for the TOC decision analyst is to identify the decisions that create levels of activity in Ted’s areas that Ted can handle alone (OE line item = $75k and notice when decisions will cause Ted to need to hire an assistant (OE line item = $75k plus $50k for assistant). That’s it. THAT’S IT. THAT’S IT. Period. End of story.
TOC No-Nonsense Cause-and-Effect OE Planning for Ted’s Department
Ok, in year 1, Ted handled seven “activities” related to 200 units of Product G and H made, sold, and shipped. The 7 activities were: purchasing, receiving, stockroom management, outside services shipping and receiving, and customer packaging and shipping. In that year, the 200 units were sold and shipped. In year 3, he did the same for 200 G & H products that did not sell and did not ship. In year 4, the “base case” scenario is for making, selling, and shipping 400 units of G & H and the “best base” scenario calls for 1,168 units of classic G, classic H, and Open Sesame. So year 4 ranges from 2x what he did in years 1 and 3 to nearly 6x those years. We’ll just round it off and call it 6x since there are a few more parts due to the new product. All seven of the activities listed above go up and down mainly with overall product volume and are not greatly effected at by mix differences within a level of volume. They are increased a little for the extra parts and product of and for Open Sesame, but not a lot.
Comprehensive Activity Analysis Interview
The interview with Ted that was needed for a complete activity analysis consisted of two questions: (1) “About how much of your time were you working on activities related to parts and products in year 1?” and (2) “What percentage of those activities increase pretty much proportionately with units of product made, sold, and shipped?”
When Ted answered, “(1) 25% and (2) all of them, 100%,” the entire process of interviewing and data-gathering analysis was complete.
Compare that to the interviews your company had when they let Anderson Consulting — or some other giant systems consulting, programming, education, and implementation services company that spun out from the Big 8 or Big 6 or Big 5 or Big 2 or whatever it is these days large public accounting partnerships — get started in getting paid (via expensive paid ABC consulting services) for their sales cycles ultimately designed to land them the big gold-plated profitable ABC, JIT, and business process re-design and re-engineering project that used ABC to persuade you to make a one-time big spike in profits by cutting the costs of the company beyond the fat into the muscle and bone and leave the company in temporarily good, but long-term compromised and inflexible position.
But that was the 90s. It’s 2011 now. I have to assume that, by now, the Anderson Consulting-like companies and Cap-Gemini-like companies and Computer Sciences-like and EDS-like companies of the world — the huge systems integration houses — have all added, or are quickly in the process of adding, TOC-style TVA-I-I-OE-Cash finance, accounting, and planning modules and Haystack decisions-support and scheduling and shop control application modules and Haystack database systems that modify the Parts table and create a new Process Results table and have programs and transactions that create and maintain the Perpetual Schedule-Based Decision Support data set (pSBDSds) memory object and add some Critical Chain project support and TOC logic tree thinking process suppor and so forth and so on. ,/bg ❤
Before we leave the subject of Anderson Consulting, an historical note is interesting here. Anderson was there and involved in the mid-1950s when the first commercially-owned computer went into operation at a large General Electric “park.” Not only that, Anderson was the first computer consulting firm. I didn’t know that. And now they’re headquartered in Ireland and are HUGE.
Comprehensive departmental interview complete! Let’s Forecast the OE line item.
Ted’s load in year 1 was about 25% of his time. In year three, because the products weren’t shipped, it was less than that. So in year 4, if the company were only planning to make and sell 2x, Ted could handle it alone and still be using only 50% of his time. But they’re planning to sell 6 times the year 1 volume and do that again or more in the next years. So we don’t have to do all that activity based costing analysis and write reports and make estimates and create “cost per event” figures for the things Ted does in his seven primary activity areas, and keep expensive ABC consultants busy and rich doing it, and keeping our people busy working with ABC consultants instead of doing the business of the business. We already know Ted needs to hire somebody. In our table/chart in the format of Detective Columbo’s 5-year TOC TVA Financial Management System for Strategic, Product, and Improvements Planning and Control, for Nuggets Incorporated’s year 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, the year 4 OE line item for Ted’s shipping and receiving department increases from $75k to $125k due to the $50k for the new employee. And we show that new figure for that line item in all five years.
Done for Ted’s department.
TOC No-Nonsense Cause-and-Effect OE Planning for the rest of the company’s overhead staff departments
Let’s think about the effect on other OE line items. No effect on the OE $ line items for president, secretary, public relations department, personnel department, not sure about marketing and sales until Judy tells us, no effect on Patrick’s product and manufacturing engineering department, we’ve already looked at Freddie’s time in production, no effect on new full-time chef’s kitchen department, can’t remember the other 2 depts … anyway, we’re almost done predicting the effects of the company’s year 4 decisions on all the overhead staff departments of the company. oh, finance and accounting will see more invoices and cash collections and credit checks, but Harry and Judy can probably handle it for the year 4, unless we hear otherwise from them. Building maintenance: no change in that OE $ line item.
Done. OE line item forecasting complete. We have forecasts of units of product for a few likely scenarios. We have sales prices and TVC for unit TVA for each product for those scenarios. So we have everything we need for the full picture of financial impact. And we never allocated a single dollar of OE expense from direct labor expenditure for the year or overhead expense for the year to get what we need for that complete picture.
TOC-Style Cause and Effect “Activity Analysis” for OE Line Items
The example of Ted’s and the other departmental OE expense line items for year 4 showed the meaning of TOC’s important financial planning expression, “cause-and-effect analysis of the likely effects of company decisions on the period or multi-period OE line items.” For decisions, management needs a little bit of the right information and sound thinking to determine whether and how the actual level of expenditure for OE in the period will change, if at all. Management does not need to know — and have its employees wasting time, wasting money, and scattering strategic and tactical focus trying to figure out — by using activity-based costing or other similar methods –everything else that could conceivably be known, modeled, described, written about, discussed, diagrammed, assumed, simplified, or monetized into a “cost per transaction” or allocation to a unit of some product’s cost. If management wants some of that additional information for some reason and is willing to pay the various prices for getting it, fine. But they need more to know the real money impacts of business decisions.
For all of you who were persuaded to live through all the gymnastics of doing activity-based costing (ABC) for this sort of decision analysis, because you had to do some kind of allocation to external reporting anyway and somebody sold you a bill of goods that, since you had to do allocations anyway, activity based allocations were less wrong than direct labor-based allocations, and that, since you should use the same system for both reporting and decisions (you should not use the same system or numbers for both decisions and reporting) … anyway, for all of you … on behalf of the TOC community worldwide … we’re really sorry that happened to you … but we did all try our very best to tell you before you went ahead and did all that … ./:)coopKap .’jonalisa
why am i thinking that, if robin cooper and bob kaplan were here right now, they would be giving some serious consideration to offering some additional somewhat un-scholarly words and phrases for we toc guys and gals to consider trying on for size?
[1/27 3:35 am ,/eirePres<3]
[leslienielsen 1/28,/4L05am les probably knows a lot about toc<3, lesvitaknextday<3]
A few readers may have noticed that Nuggets International may need to turn a bit of its management’s attention to its processes of strategic planning, marketing, new product introduction, product and manufacturing process improvement, selling, and the family of processes related to accepting and fulfilling customer orders. All things in time. On the other hand, it seems to have its processes for preparing lunch pretty well worked out. [jan29 3:36am]