Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Systemic Analysis of Certified Artisan Cheese Production for Improvement—The Case of the Serra da Estrela PDO Cheese

Unaffiliated holistic designer
Version 1 : Received: 29 December 2016 / Approved: 30 December 2016 / Online: 30 December 2016 (07:34:54 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Coelho, D.A.; Carrola, T.E.P.; Couvinhas, A.F. Improvement of Certified Artisan Cheese Production through Systemic Analysis—Serra da Estrela PDO. Sustainability 2017, 9, 468. Coelho, D.A.; Carrola, T.E.P.; Couvinhas, A.F. Improvement of Certified Artisan Cheese Production through Systemic Analysis—Serra da Estrela PDO. Sustainability 2017, 9, 468.


The research reported on this paper was aimed at improving the overall efficiency of a PDO certified artisanal cheese production process. Being a PDO certified foodstuff by the EU, it is considered to have properties and qualities determined by the geographical environment in which is made, with its production taking place in a specific and determined geographical location, in this case the Serra da Estrela region. In that sense, the authors conducted a mapping according to a systemic perspective of the processes involved in the context of manufacturing and distribution of certified Serra da Estrela cheese. Numerous methods were used throughout the process, such as a systemic design analysis, and techniques derived from ethnographic methods, which led to the collection of data in the field and consequently provided the immersion of the researcher in genuine work situations. Critical points were identified and emphasized in the systemic map with the purpose of encouraging initiatives to address and overcome the gaps and inefficiencies detected. The systemic design analysis triggered the development of design work. Observations following an ethnographic approach identified ergonomic risks in cheese making during the process of cutting excess chips, fostering the emergence of musculoskeletal disorders at the wrist. A tool that fits best to the task at hand was developed. A prototype of the new tool enabled collecting feedback from use in the work context, in order to inform product development. The domains of agricultural production and microbiology, considering the specific microorganisms developed trough the ripening process of the cheese, turned out to be aspects of high importance for the issue under focus, contributing to a broader understanding of the ripening process and its risks, simultaneously improving the efficiency and success of cheese production. If it were not for the systemic analysis, which served as a link between the boundaries of distinct domains such as the risk of microorganism contamination, ergonomics, energy efficiency, legislation and regulation policies, transportation challenges and economic viability, approached throughout the research. Simultaneously creating bridges between them, the various problems might not have been detected in the first place, as they are usually addressed in specialized disciplines, predetermined by the restrictions of each specific area of knowledge. As a consequence of the development of this research, which was based on an analysis that sought to establish possible connections between various disciplines and tried to constantly maintain a holistic perspective, making new connections and observing the issues from a new angle, apart from the already established methodologies. All this allowed to lay out the seeds for the development of a plan to tackle the critical points identified by the systemic analysis reported in this paper.


process improvement; ewe’s cheese; systemic design


Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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