Skip to content

OM in the News: Maintenance, Reliability and the McFlurry

January 21, 2017
Employees often just say the machine is down rather than reassembling it. Here an employee spills ice cream mix all over herself while trying to fill the machine.

Employees often just say the machine is down rather than reassembling it. Here an employee spills ice cream mix all over herself while trying to fill the machine.

Why is the McDonald’s McFlurry ice cream machine down again? “The interruption in ice cream, milkshake and McFlurry service is so widespread that it has spawned an avalanche of social-media complaints in the U.S. and abroad—and conspiracy theories,” writes The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 20, 2017).

“I’m convinced there’s no way an ice cream machine would be down all the time with no replacement or repair of the machine,” says one NY college student.  After experiencing downed machines numerous times, another student had a meltdown, which she captured on Facebook. The video rant received 1 million views and 5,000 comments, many of which came from customers with the same complaint.

Fans say they love the texture of the McFlurry’s hard, crunchy candy and smooth, creamy, vanilla soft serve. (A 16-ounce McFlurry contains 930 calories and 128 grams of sugar, more than three 12-ounce cans of Coke, by the way.)

In the years since the McFlurry made its debut on the menu in 1998, it has garnered a cult following. And the cravings for it often come on suddenly and late at night. That may be part of the problem.

McDonald’s requires the machines to undergo a nightly automated heat cleaning cycle of up to 4 hours to destroy any bacteria in them. Getting the machines ready for the cleaning cycle is an 11-step process that involves combining a sanitizing mix with warm water, removing and rinsing 7 parts, brushing clean 2 fixed parts for 60 seconds and wiping down the machine with a sanitized towel. Once the heat cycle begins, it can’t be interrupted because the product is hot and under extreme pressure.

One survey found 25% of the restaurants weren’t serving ice cream because the machines were reported not to be functional. Downed ice cream machines is now the most common service-related complaint among McDonald’s customers.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. What are the OM issues here?
  2. Have students had similar complaints? Suggestions?
Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Supply Chain Management Research

Andreas Wieland’s supply chain management blog for academics and managers

better operations

Thoughts on continuous improvement: from TPS to XPS

%d bloggers like this: