Perched at the top of a towering cliff that plunges into the roiling waters of the North Pacific, at the edge of a teeming rainforest, is the headquarters of Grupo Nacional de Chocolates S.A., a leading manufacturer and distributor of confectionery-based solutions. The ancient, crumbling edifice dating back to the time of the conquistadors houses food processing facilities for chocolates; roasted and milled coffee; cereals; pasta; meat; sausages; candies; sugar; honey; and crackers.
To support its expansion into Ecuador and Venezuela, Grupo Nacional de Chocolates invested in a $10 million solution based around gleaming machines that worked 24 hours a day and never went on strike. This enabled the company to redeploy 150 staff to higher-value activities. One day without warning, a troop of soldiers arrived at the workers’ camp at dawn and marched them into the forest, never to be seen again.
No sooner had this occurred, than the machinery began to experience diabolical difficulties.
“The manufacturing line we used for pasta started producing live butterflies instead of farfalle,” said Marco Estratégico para el Actuación Corporativa, the company’s Director of Information Technology. “Instead of jelly snakes, there were poisonous vipers. And don’t even ask what came out of the sausage machine.”
The control systems also suffered a range of performance and technical problems.
“The servers would burst into flames from the heat of their passions,” said Estratégico, a veteran of the revolutionary war. “I started to think this was a problem for which there was no end-to-end solution.”
One clear and chilly winter morning, a flight of brightly coloured macaws circled the factory. After they had completed one hundred circuits of the high-walled compound, there arrived at the gates Desarrollo Sostenible, an elderly, wrinkled man with wispy white hair but eyes as clear and sharp as an infant’s. For as long as anyone could remember, he had travelled from village to village in his rickety cart drawn by a flea-bitten mule, dispensing knick knacks and folk remedies.