Lean management for Dairy with Jana Hocken

Lean management is helping Strategic Dairy Farm hosts, Dylan and Hannah Harries, decrease waste and increase productivity.

As part of their Strategic Dairy Farm journey, Dylan and Hannah Harris have worked with Jana Hocken and AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, Jamie McCoy to introduce the principles of Lean management to their farm.

For Dylan, the wish to explore Lean came as the farm expanded, saying, “it became quite apparent that we needed some form of visual management”. In 2016/17 they introduced whiteboards and grazing planners and are now looking at ‘working hours per labour unit’ in a bid to achieve a more reasonable working week.

Find out more about the principles of Lean management

Fundamental to the principle of Lean is continuous improvement. Jana suggests having a vision for your farm business, which you continuously strive to achieve. This will change and adapt over time.

By making changes and preparing your business for adverse circumstances you can improve the resilience of your enterprise.

Applying Lean to your business

To introduce Lean management to your farm, identify your specific problems or frustrations. This will help you to select your priority area and allow you to consider the Lean tools best suited to eliminate or minimise your waste.

For example, if your priority is to reduce hours, take steps to understand how your team’s time is spent. Or if your priority is increasing production, begin by identifying what is stopping you from reaching those targets.

Key tools and practical tips

The importance of writing your jobs list down

Jana identified that, “taking knowledge and information out of our heads and putting it in a visual format”, is vital for improving efficiency. This ensures that everyone involved in your operation knows which areas or tasks they are responsible for and is on the same page.

It is also an easy way to assess how your time is being spent and if it is focused on the highest value areas.

Dylan agreed that this process has allowed them to be more organised, creating increased structure to the day and ultimately freeing time. His team had an open conversation as to how they could best use time and have consequently moved their lunch break earlier in the day. Previously, they only had 30 minutes between lunch and afternoon milking, which the team felt was often wasted on smaller less important tasks. They now have sufficient time to complete higher value pieces of work.

Make jobs and metrics visible to your team

Using whiteboards and charts can help ensure you and your team are able to prioritise, focus, and improve efficiency. It allows everyone to have access to the same information.

Visual graphs will also allow the whole team to monitor key metrics and make important decisions based on real-time trends.

For Dylan, this has also included the introduction of a visual ‘shopping list’ to reduce trips to their suppliers, saving both time and fuel.

It can also be helpful to include a maintenance list as this allows team members to be aware of all issues across your farm that need addressing. This will help reduce repeat trips as all jobs can be completed in one area at a time.

A safety chart can help identify trends in accidents or near misses. Mark each day with a tick: green for no accidents or incidents; orange for a near miss; and red for an occurrence. This will help you identify pressure points or areas of concern.

Planning whiteboards are available for all Dairy levy payers. Contact your local Knowledge Exchange Manager for more information.

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