Coca-Cola’s bottling and distribution facility in Indianapolis is the perfect canvas for a logistical and supply-chain masterpiece. Machines were filling and capping bottles by the hundreds every minute. Empty plastic bottles flew over our heads, stacking in single file lines to await their bubbly final destination. Meanwhile thousands of cases of coke products were piled high in the warehouse, perfectly wrapped and stacked, waiting to be shipped. I’m sure everyone’s head was spinning with ways of analyzing the plant’s production possibilities and ideas for improved efficiency.
When we first arrived at the Coca-Cola facility we were warmly greeted and treated to a brief history of coke. I think many of us knew the main points of coke’s history – it began in an Atlanta pharmacy and grew to become the world’s most recognizable brand. (Although, who knew the contour bottle was only made to distinguish real coke from imitators? Not this guy.) We also learned some quick facts about the Indianapolis facility before it was time to don our PPE, review safety instructions, and explore the plant.
We first observed a few of the plant’s production lines, ranging from bottles and cans being filled at hundreds each minute to water flavor enhancers slowly filling at dozens each minute. Each machine had a lot of bottling to do in order to meet the day’s production goals. From the bottling lines, we moved further into the plant to see how every process fits together to make each product. Empty bottles came out of boxes and were loaded overhead into bottling lines. Then finished products were boxed and wrapped. Finally finished and wrapped cases were stacked high onto pallets along the wall. The entire process seemed like a musical symphony being orchestrated by a series of men driving forklifts and moving materials where they are needed.
Visiting Coca-Cola was a truly eye-opening experience and I would gladly make the trip again. They also know how to treat their guests; we all enjoyed a sampling of coke products before we left.
MBA Class of 2014