Drums, bins, boxes, and other containers that are used in the petroleum industry are sold by Holden Inc. One of the company’s products is a heavy-duty, environmentally friendly, corrosion-resistant metal drum, called the STR drum, used to store toxic wastes. Production is constrained by the capacity of an automated welding machine that is used to make precision welds. A total of 4,500 hours of welding time is available annually on the machine. Since each drum requires 0.6 hours of welding time, annual production is limited to 7,500 drums. At present, the welding machine is used exclusively to make the STR drums. The accounting department has provided the following financial data concerning the STR drums:
1. Should the financial analysis prepared by the company be used in deciding which product to sell? Why?
2. Compute the contribution margin per unit for
a. Purchased STR drums.
b. Manufactured STR drums.
c. Manufactured park benches.
3. Determine the number of STR drums (if any) that should be purchased and the number of STR drums and/or park benches (if any) that should be manufactured. What is the increase in operating income that would result from this plan over current operations? As soon as your analysis was shown to the top management team at Holden, several managers got into an argument concerning how direct labour costs should be treated when making this decision. One manager argued that direct labour is always treated as a variable cost in textbooks and in practice and has always been considered a variable cost at Holden. After all, “direct” means you can directly trace the cost to products. “If direct labour is not a variable cost, what is?” Another manager argued just as strenuously that direct labour should be considered a fixed cost at Holden. No one had been laid off in over a decade, and for all practical purposes, everyone at the plant is on a monthly salary. Everyone classified as direct labour works a regular 40-hour workweek, and overtime has not been necessary since the company adopted just-in-time techniques. Whether the welding machine were used to make drums or park benches, the total payroll would be exactly the same. There is enough slack, in the form of idle time, to accommodate any increase in total direct labour time that the park benches would require. 4. Redo requirements (2) and (3) above, making the opposite assumption about direct labour from the one you originally made. In other words, if you treated direct labour as a variable cost, redo the analysis treating it as a fixed cost. If you treated direct labour as a fixed cost, redo the analysis treating it as a variable cost.
5. What do you think is the correct way to treat direct labour cost in this situation—as variable or as fixed?

  • CreatedJuly 08, 2015
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