What is Lean?
Lean has its origins in Toyota. It is a holistic approach to managing your business that is based on a culture of continuous improvement. It aims to eliminate all waste from the business processes, maximising value, and delivering products and services customers want at the right time, in the quantity needed, with the best quality and at the lowest cost.
What does Lean have to do with farming?
How can it apply lean principles to a farm? Farming is completely different to making cars isn’t it?
Yes, farming is different – we have a lot more variables that perhaps are not as easily controlled – weather, cows health, global stock markets, environmental changes. However, we also have farm inputs, outputs and processes which we can have control of. Just like in manufacturing, we have people, cows, materials, resources, equipment and machines (our business inputs) that work together through various processes to give us our output which in the ideal world is high-quality milk, at the lowest cost, with zero safety incidents and minimal environmental impact.
Lean essentially helps us to convert our inputs as efficiently and effectively as possible through streamlined value-added processes into our ideal outputs (low cost, high-quality milk).
Lean in Dairy Farming
LeanFarm is bringing Lean to the Dairy Farm. Why? Because we are essentially in the business of manufacturing milk!
We have processes, equipment, people, customer expectations and results we need to achieve. Yes cows are the difference but these need exceptional processes as well to be in excellent condition and performance. We call our cows our athletes – because just like athletes they need the right care, conditions, diet, medical attention and monitoring.
Lean can help your farm to achieve the best outcomes by doing the right things, at the right time in the right way.
Lean Farming applied to Farm Processes
Our farms are full of processes – repetitive processes. Processes that repeat every year, every month, every week or every day: calving, crop management, mating, dry off, feed out, milking, shifting cows. This makes our farms ideal places to apply lean manufacturing methodologies. While our current processes may not be very well defined or possibly change depending on who does the particular task, they are still processes.
Lean helps us to define our processes, optimise them by eliminating all waste (non-value added components) from the process and standardise these processes across our teams and farm so that everyone is using the one best way of doing something. Lean principles then help us to continuously improve our processes so that we get better and more competitive every day.
Lean Farming and Problem Solving
Lean methodology and tools can help our farms with many of the key problems we face every day: improving our production results, reducing our cell counts and improving quality, improving cow health while reducing things like empty rates, creating better maintenance systems to stop unexpected breakdowns, eliminating waste, fixing problems once for good, creating more engaged, accountable teams, and of course saving our farms money.