The lean approach is widely used to improve business performance in a range of industries and sectors.
DairyNZ’s lean management project manager Sarah Watson says it is about running a business which supports continuous improvement.
“Lean thinking aims to minimise waste in the farm system – removing anything that isn’t adding value to the process,” says Sarah.
“It’s about having a long-term approach that systematically achieves small, incremental changes in processes to improve efficiency and quality.”
Purpose, process, people
Key to implementing ‘lean thinking’ are the concepts of purpose, process and people.
“Purpose is about why taking a lean thinking approach is important to the business and its people? Process is how the business makes sure each step in the process is valuable, adequate and that all of the steps are linked well,” says Sarah.
“And, finally, people is about involving the team and building a culture where people are responsible for continually evaluating the processes so everyone is actively engaged in operating it correctly and continually improving it.”
The key principles of ‘lean thinking’ are:
- focus on the system and the people
- identify and understand how the work gets done
- manage, improve and smooth the process and workflow
- remove non-value adding steps and waste
- reduce variation and sustain changes
- involve and equip the people in the process
- take action to continue improving.
How to get organised
Practical ways farms can become more organised.
Standard operating procedures – updating or creating these makes instructions easier to understand, by making instructions visual.
Storage – more efficient storage can be created, such as racks for fence standards. Existing storage can be tidied and labels used.
Shadow board – a board which has the shapes of tools helps ensure equipment is always in the same place, so less time is spent looking for them. It also inspires commitment from the team to put tools back.
Milk easier, faster, better
A key lean management tool called ‘5S’ involves putting the following initiatives into action:
- sort – remove all unnecessary things from the workplace
- set in order – workplace is well organised
- shine – cleaning and inspection
- standardise – same task in the same way
- sustain – don’t slip back into old habits.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2016