A lot of time and motion and waste
During and after calving, a big part of our jobs is to feed all the calves. In this process there is a lot of motion on farm and also a lot of non value added work. Most farms have calves spread all over the farm in various paddocks. While the calves start inside in sheds (which usually are also spread all over the farm), after 3 or so weeks they get moved outside. In order to feed calves twice a day to begin with milk is transported to all these calves in the various paddocks. As you know this involves a lot of time and motion.
We want to minimise time and motion
One our farm we are working hard to minimise all of our motion and reduce time it takes to do jobs, while also improving safety, animal welfare, cost, quality and sustainability. We are far from perfect but one step at a time we analysis various processes and try to improve them where we can without needing huge investment. Our calf feeding process is one that we can been slowly improving over the years. We have made changes over the last couple of seasons with even more changes planned for next season to completely streamline the calf feeding process and eliminate as much unnecessary motion as possible. This will involve moving all our calves to one centralised area and removing the need to transport milk around.
How to analyse your processes
We have taken some simple videos of two different processes for feeding calves in paddocks that we have used. We have then completed a lean analysis on these two processes, walking through some key steps to truly interrogate a process task by task, and identify waste and improvements. The first step is to draw the motion of the process – a picture of a paddock showing your motion required (including driving around) to feed the calves. This can then be measured in terms of distance travelled or walked. The process can also be broken down into time elements for each task done to complete the process of feeding the calves, from opening a tape gate, to waiting for calves to feed, to driving off. Each of these tasks are either value added or non value added and very quickly you can establish how much of the process is value added or not. In addition to a time analysis it is also important to assess the process in terms of other critical elements such as safety, animal welfare, quality, cost and so on. This complete process of analysis helps you to identify the most efficient and effective process, looking at not only time savings, but also improvements in all other criteria.
Watch the two videos on this page titled 2 Min LeanFarm – Motion on Farm: Feeding calves in paddocks.
1.5 hours / day saved
Very easily you can see that by looking at this process in a lean way, and eliminating non value added activities, we have managed to reduce the time it takes to do the process significantly. In fact if you multiply the savings from one paddock and mob of calves, across more than 400 calves and more than 10 paddocks, very quickly you can see how it has saved 1.5 hours a day for 1 person in feeding calves.
Apply same analysis to any process
While this example is from our farm and our conditions, and it may not be relevant to your farm environment, you can still use this type of process of analysis to look at any other process and improve it. If you can save 1.5 hours from just one job on farm, imagine if you apply this thinking to every other process! Also it’s important to remember that often what looks like a good efficient process, sometimes isn’t when you start to analyse it and think differently about what you are doing and how you are spending your valuable time.
Hours and days of time savings
I often say there are hours and days of savings to be made on farm. And it’s true.