Sunday, May 8, 2011

Link roundup

1. Good article about Taco Bell and how much effort is put into getting reliable food to customers fast. For example:

Every Taco Bell has two food production lines, one dedicated to the drive-thru and the other to servicing the walk-up counter. Working those lines is no easier than wearing the headset. The back of the restaurant has been engineered so that the Steamers, Stuffers, and Expeditors, the names given to the Food Champions who work the pans, take as few footsteps as possible during a shift. There are three prep areas: the hot holding area, the cold holding area, and the wrapping expediting area. The Stuffer in the hot holding area stuffs the meat into the tortillas, ladling beef with Taco Bell's proprietary tool, the BPT, or beef portioning tool. The steps for scooping the beef have been broken down into another acronym, SST, for stir, scoop, and tap. Flour tortillas must be cooked on one side for 15 seconds and the other for five.

When I take my place on the line and start to prepare burritos, tacos, and chalupas—they won't let me near a Crunchwrap Supreme—it is immediately clear that this has been engineered to make the process as simple as possible. The real challenge is the wrapping. Taco Bell once had 13 different wrappers for its products. That has been cut to six by labeling the corners of each wrapper differently. The paper, designed to slide off a stack in single sheets, has to be angled with the name of the item being made at the upper corner. The tortilla is placed in the middle of the paper and the item assembled from there until you fold the whole thing up in the wrapping expediting area next to the grill. "We had so many wrappers before, half a dozen stickers; it was all costing us seconds," says Harkins. In repeated attempts, I never get the proper item name into the proper place. And my burritos just do not hold together.
2. Animated gif shows what's it like to visit 4chan.

3. New Last Exit to Nowhere film contest with 10 t-shirt prize. And here's the winner of April's photo contest.

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