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    Production Cost Variance Analysis

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    Located in Florida, LightFlight Boat Builders served boaters with a small, lightweight fiberglass sailboat capable of being carried on a car roof. Though the firm could hardly be considered as one of the nation's industrial giants, its burgeoning business had required it to institute a formal system of cost control. Jim Carson, LightFlight president, explained:

    Our seasonal demand, as opposed to a need for regular, level production, means that we must keep a good line of credit at the bank. Modern cost control and inventory valuation procedures enhance our credibility with the bankers and, more importantly, have enabled us to improve our operations. Our supervisors have realized the value of good cost accounting, and the main office has, in turn, become much more aware of problems in the barn.

    LightFlight's manufacturing and warehouse facilities consisted of three historic barns converted to make 11-foot "Blue Marlin" sailboats. The company's plans included the addition of 15- and 18-foot sailboats to its present line. Longer-term plans called for adding additional sizes and styles in the hope of becoming a major factor in the regional boat market.

    The "Blue Marlin" was an open-cockpit, day sailer sporting a mainsail and small jib on a 17-foot, telescoping aluminum mast. It was ideally suited to the many small lakes and ponds of the region, and after three years it had become quite popular. It was priced at $2,265 complete.

    Manufacturing consisted basically of three processes: molding, finishing, and assembly. The molding department mixed all ingredients to make the fiberglass hull, performed the actual molding, and removed the hull from the mold. Finishing included hand additions to the hull for running and standing rigging, reinforcement of the mast and tiller steps, and general sanding of rough spots. Assembly consisted of the attachment of cleats, turnbuckles, drain plugs, tiller, and so forth, and the inspection of the boat with mast, halyards, and sails in place. The assembly department also prepared the boat for storage or shipment.

    Mixing and molding fiberglass hulls, while manually simple, required a great deal of expertise, or "eyeball," as it was know in the trade. Addition of too much or too little catalyst, use of too much or too little heat, or failure to allow proper time for curing could each cause a hull to be discarded. Conversely, spending too much time on adjustments to mixing or molding equipment or on "personalized" supervision of each hull could cause severe underproduction problems. Once a batch of fiberglass was mixed there was no time to waste being overcautious or it was likely to "freeze" in its kettle.

    With such a situation, and the company's announced intent of expanding its product line, it became obvious that a standard cost system would be necessary to help control costs and to provide some reference for supervisors' performance.

    Benny Bern, the molding department supervisor, and Terry Schmidt, LightFlight's accountant, agreed after lengthy discussion to the following standard costs:


    Glass cloth - 120 sq. ft @ $2.00 = $240.00
    Glass miz - 40lbs. @ $3.75 = $150.00

    Direct labor:

    Mixing - 0.5 hr. @ $20.25/hr = $10.12
    Molding - 1.0 hr. @ @20.25 = $20.25

    Indirect costs - Absorb at $24.30 per hull** = $24.30
    Total cost to mold hull = $444.67

    **The normal volume of operations for overhead derviation purposes was assumed to be 450 hulls per month. The estimated monthly indirect cost equation was
    BUDGET = $9.72 x hulls + $6,561

    Analysis of Operations

    After several additional months of operations, Bill Schmidt expressed his disappointment about the apparent lack of attention being paid to the standard costs. The molders tended to have a cautious outlook toward mixing too little or "cooking" too long. No one wanted to end up throwing away a partial hull because there was too little glass mix.

    In reviewing the most recent month's production results, Schmidt noted the following actual costs for production of 430 hulls:



    60,000 SQft glass cloth @ $1.80
    20,000 lbs glass mix @ $4.09

    Used -

    54,000 SqFT glass cloth
    19,000 lbs glass mix

    Direct Labor -

    Mixing: 210 hrs @ $21.37
    Molding: 480 hrs @ $20.25

    Overhead: Incurred $11,140

    Before proceeding with further analysis, Schmidt called Bern to arrange a discussion of variances. He also told Carson, "Maybe we should look into an automated molding operation. Although I haven't finished my analysis, it looks like there will be unfavorable variances again. Bern insists that the standards are reasonable, then never meets them!"

    Carson seemed disturbed and answered, "Well, some variances are inevitable. Why don't you analyze them in some meaningful manner and discuss your ideas with Bern, who is an expert in molding whose opinion I respect. Then the two of you meet with me to discuss the whole matter."


    Determine the molding department's direct cost variances and overhead variances. Why do you think they occurred?

    Do you think LightFlight standards are meaningful? How would you improve them?

    Assume that the month's actual and standard production costs for items OTHER THAN molding hulls amounted to $914.33 per boat, and that 430 boats were sold. Prepare a statement of budgeted and actual gross margin for the month, assuming planned sales of 450 boats.

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    Solution Preview

    1) We can see that there is a positive (favorable) variance in glass cloth case. It happened because the actual cost of glass cloth was less than the budgeted cost( 1.8 instead of 2).But it was not much as more than budgeted material was used.(54000 instead of 120*430)
    <br>2)The glass mix has a -ve variance because , the material was bought at a higher price and more material than budgeted was used.
    <br>3) ...