I don’t know about you, but when I picture the long road that chocolate takes from the fields to my favorite gourmet store, an iPhone just doesn’t come into play. But my romantic visions of craftsmen slowly stirring and ladling steaming vats of molten goodness need to make room for the realities of today’s technologically-driven world, and all the advantages that it provides. One example of innovation driving and perfecting the process can be found in the San Francisco factory of TCHO, a production company that has been collaborating with Fuji Xerox. The two companies have worked together to create applications that provide TCHO with immediate access to both the production equipment within their own facility and to the remote cocoa bean cultivators they are working with to ensure that they get the exact taste and quality they are working towards.
You may not have heard of them, but TCHO runs an enormous operation – their factory is 30,000 square feet of the most state-of-the-art chocolate production equipment and laboratories, and they produce a myriad of products, ranging from chocolate bars of all flavors, baking ingredients, and more. But this is no run-of-the-mill, low-quality chocolate. They are working with single-origin chocolates coming in from Ecuador and Peru, and the quality and consistency of taste are so important to them that they run taste tests in the lab that can take as long as thirty hours per sample – and that’s where the app comes in. The members of the “bean team” are able to run the tests remotely, monitoring when a sample reaches the correct temperature and instantly shutting it down without actually being there. This has not only improved productivity, but quality as well.
TCHO has flavor labs located in the remote locations where their beans are grown as well, and the app is used to communicate directly with the growers in order to both train them in the correct use of the equipment and increase understanding of exactly what direction all parties are heading towards.
The app also allows the company’s management the ability to take a virtual tour of their facility, complete with 3-D animation, avatars and embedded videos that explain the various functions of different pieces of equipment and the process that goes into the production of various products, but at this point, the application is only available internally – though there is a chance that we may someday be able to take the virtual tour ourselves.