The essences that make us the holders of a patrimonial value, those that emanate from the most authentic flavors, are historically linked to science and art in manufacturing processes. The factories of the Cuba Ron S.A. Corporation are witness to how Cuban rum as a comprehensive scientific process must be. About this subject, the Cuban Rum Master Salomé Alemán shares her knowledge from her overall experience and as executive of the Santa Cruz Rum Factory.
From strategic to operational processes, what are the different situations that the product and its planners must face?
The main purpose or mission of a rum-producing factory is to meet the production quotas of the various commercial lines, with the quality required from its customers. From the issuance of the production order at the beginning of each month, a whole process of engagement is triggered between those responsible for planning and organizing the production (Industrial Division) and the productive areas that execute the alcohol and liquors production (Distillery). Those who guarantee the necessary steam and water (Energy) are also engaged, as well as the Rum Aging area, maintaining the delivery of the bases and aged liquors and the replacement of bases and fresh liquors; and the Rum Manufacturing area, with the finished productions and subsequent shipments to Bottling area and / or Filling area for export. The personnel in charge of the support processes like supply and food management, factory hygiene, maintenance and the responsibles for making the deliveries of the finished productions also join the whole production process. Each of these stages has well-defined tasks and we need great coherence and communication. We are led by the senior management staff, with specialists and cadres that supervise each stage and control each of the processes. Difficulties and shortcomings are always present, so the creativity and dedication of everyone is needed to provide concrete solutions in order to meet the production quotas.
In which of these processes is the Cuban Rum Master the most involved?
The Cuban Rum Master begins his participation with a correct planning and forecast of the calculation of the needs for the execution of the annual production budget. Starting from the stock, a strategy is developed to guarantee the quota of the necessary alcohol and brandy productions as well as the replacement of the bases to be used in future demands that request the existing formulations that are strictly enforced. Similarly, barrel rotations and acquisitions are provided to accommodate these productions.
As for production, the rum master oversees the monthly fulfillment of the strategies and, in case of any difficulty, he makes technological modifications that always solve the problem at hand, within the existing practical standards. In addition, he monitores the quality of the productions and warehouses, as well as the rum bases that are in process of maturing per long periods.
In accordance with this, at the end of each month, technological analysis are carried out based on the results obtained and the details of the strategies defined at the beginning of the year are adjusted.
At what stage of development or conception are there the greatest challenges?
All stages have challenges and they are all equally important. Rum production is a chain process and any failure can have great repercussion in the final product.
If the necessary quantities of raw materials such as honey and alcohol phlegm for rectification are not available in time, the replacement of spirits and fresh rums in stock is compromised, which means future shortages of aged bases for production. If the availability of sufficient water is not possible, the fermentation process is endangered, as well as the overall production of rums. The rotation of barrels in the inflation process is also affected since it is difficult to replace bases when none of the barrels are available when needed. Therefore this cycle of water change, which is another technological requirement, can not be met . If electrical failures occur, the overall production is delayed, the distillation process is lost, the fermentation cycles are also delayed. This affects the vitality of the yeasts and generates non-conforming productions, which can only be used through alternative ways.
If the dry matter is not found in time, the bottling work schedule is not complied. It also happens when the entry cycle of empty tanks destined for export fails.
In the same way, each missing piece or item in each of the processes creates a difficulty with repercussions in the subsequent stages, hence the importance of working with meticulous organization, anticipating each possible problem and looking immediately for solutions. It is important to produce, but not at all costs. It is necessary to comply with technical standards and with the consumption rates planned at each stage so that our processes are economically correct. The compliance with production plans implies efficiency, quality and internal control.
In current times and contexts, how is the fulfillment or execution of those processes that characterize Cuban Rum carried out?
We are living in difficult times, marked by the presence of the Covid 19 pandemic that affects the world. This has led to working as we find solutions in real time, with intelligence. Alternative productions have been carried out in all the Corporation's factories, seeking a way to contribute to the delivery of rums to the population. Some solutions have been found, such as the production of sanitizing products for hands and surfaces, the use of alcohol D (secondary product of the rectification of alcohol) as an additive in the generation of steam to improve the efficiency of this process. Other productive alternatives have been sought to guarantee the filling of the barrels due to the lack of fundamental raw materials.
The contribution of our workers has been essential. Despite the necessary isolating processes, the work has been maintained based on the strategies outlined for each process and in each factory. Likewise, work on bottling processes has been enhanced, introducing some manual work, and quality control with the existing regulations has been maintained during all stages. Along with other alternatives designed for these contexts, we allowed the staff to rotate to areas where it has become necessary. In a general sense, a lot of innovation has been applied, but there's also a great will to succeed.