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Thinking about Catering Systems

Peter Jones (Brighton Polytechnic, UK)
Alan Huelin (Brighton Polytechnic, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 1 August 1990



The operational analysis of catering operations is constrained by the lack of an internationally accepted taxonomy and the seemingly infinite variety of operations. The development of catering operations is described and a flow chart of ten distinct stages that constitute any such operation is proposed. These stages provide the basis for a possible taxonomy. It is suggested that currently there are ten generic catering systems that can be clearly identified, each of which has a unique combination of some or all of the ten stages. Such analysis is the highest level of a hierarchy of possible analyses, i.e. Level 1. The second level of analysis considers the range of subsystems in use to achieve the function of each stage. The range of alternative technologies varies from two to five in each stage. The theoretical number of combinations of subsystems is in the thousands, but many are mutually incompatible with each other. There are therefore approximately 100 types of operation in the industry when considered at Level 2. Finally, there is a third level of analysis that considers the specific application of the basic technology applied to any given operation. It is at this level that there is the almost apparent infinite variety of operations that appears to typify the industry. These three levels and the ten stages are then combined into an analytical model which is called the Catering/System Pentahedron. The pentahedron enables the classification of any given catering operation and establishes a means of evaluating innovation and proposals for performance improvement within operations.



Jones, P. and Huelin, A. (1990), "Thinking about Catering Systems", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 10 No. 8, pp. 42-52.




Copyright © 1990, MCB UP Limited

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