27 March 2011

Software Design Puzzle #8 - Manufacturing Soaps

Assume that you are an expert in manufacturing many varieties of soaps - bath soaps, detergent soaps and all soaps in the earth. You have a magic recipes of soap making right from procuring raw materials till manufacturing soaps and shipping to stores. There are many processes involved in soap making and there are various flavors for each process. And some of the processes are optional and specific types of soaps. For example, you know that you to have add a lot of scents for bath/toilet soap and lot of whitening material for detergent soaps. 

The puzzle is to design the soap manufacturing with lot of processes/steps and all these processes/steps are sequential meaning that one process cannot start until the previous processes are complete. For instance, the process of shipping cannot happen until you make soap and you cannot make soaps until you form soap base and you cannot start soap base without raw materials.

Can you design soap manufacturing process where one step depends on so many previous steps. To induce your thinking, let us assume that you have the following processes/steps

  • Buy raw materials (can be different based on the soaps)
  • Mix raw materials
  • Form soap base
  • Make soaps
  • Package soaps
  • Ship It
You are free to add more steps but the key is to come up with a process that can be changed dynamically based on soap types that are going to be invented in future :-)

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