Utilising techniques from the automotive industry could boost productivity and efficiency across the farming industry.
Horticultural businesses have been applying LEAN management techniques from the car industry and the ideas could transfer across onto arable and livestock farms.
Taiichi Ohno, the founder of Toyota Production System, which became LEAN Manufacturing, said they had looked at the whole timeline from the customer’s order to collecting payment.
“And we are reducing the timeline by reducing the non-value adding wastes,” he said.
Speaking at an AHDB Horticulture labour efficiency workshop, Neil Fedden, from Fedden USP, said he had worked with businesses from machinery manufacturing to dairy farms.
People were often surprised by the amount of waste in the business and Mr Fedden recommended getting an outsider to look at the business.
“The trouble is you get so focused, you tend to see the waste as normal. It is only when you step back and do some process mapping you see it,” Mr Fedden said.
The next step was visually mapping everything all employees, from the back office to the packing line, did to identify wastage. Common finds were reports nobody read, too many validation checks and duplication.
And these techniques were not just beneficial to labour intensive businesses, although they can be utilised in packing and processing.
Paul Temple, AHDB cereals and oilseeds chairman, said for the arable sector it was about ‘making the most’ of the workforce they did use.
“The biggest challenge is going to be getting a technical capable workforce. These are in demand across industries,” he said.
Organisation was also key, with Mr Temple suggesting making sure the farmyard was ordered logically to cut down on ‘backwards and forwards’ movement.
Avoiding ‘double packing’ and loading directly onto trucks or into stores could also be seen as an easy win.
And quality checking should be done as early in the process as possible, or people would be doing unnecessary work.
Stan Willey, of Management Performance, added employers needed to know how to motivate their staff, with money not the only driver.
For example, local workers may not want extra money as an incentive because it could interfere with benefit payments and leave them worse off.
“Know your people and what drives them,” he said.