Statistical evaluations of sugarcane quality, deterioration and the impacts of weekend logistics in a commercial sugarcane supply chain
School of Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
Crop quality can be used for monitoring the supply chain in agro-industries, although, sugarcane quality also varies naturally and is affected by climate, nutrition, pests and diseases, cane variety and water availability. Harvest-to-crush logistics affect sugarcane quality and present a significant impact on milling efficiency. This research studied commercial sugarcane quality parameters over six years at a large commercial sugar mill in South Africa, f(sucrose content expressed as a percentage of fiber content) was derived as a new parameter that consistently flagged poor quality deliveries during the early part of the week. This is a strong indicator of increased cane deterioration over weekends as a result of logistics inefficiencies. Shewhart quahty control charts (X̄ charts) and a non-para-metric statistic confirmed significantly inferior cane qualities after weekends. Statistical techniques were also able, with 95% significance, to identify growers with systemic deterioration of delivered cane. A large number of growers who were exposed to weekend logistics problems were also experiencing significant systemic deterioration problems. These results may enable the generation of a grower performance index that will allow stakeholders to improve operations. The study shows that, although notorious for its variability, commercial cane quahty data can be used to drive efficiency improvements in the supply chain, if used appropriately.