Case study: Low-cost investment saves time in service tent

Find out how a simple extension cable improved efficiency and staff performance on an outdoor breeding unit.

Back to: Lean management case studies in the pork sector

The problem

The unit: outdoor breeding unit with over 1,000 sows on a single site; each service group consists of 48 pigs running on a continuous (weekly) system.

The generator used to power the artificial insemination (AI) cooler was positioned just outside the service tent. The AI cooler was placed on a shelf against one side of the tent so it could be plugged directly into the generator. The temporary AI stalls ran along the centre of the tent, parallel with the boar pens.

This meant that to collect each dose of semen, staff had to walk back and forth from one side of the tent to the other. Each trip took roughly 20 seconds (not including opening and closing the cooler) and the walking back and forth also caused sows to become slightly more agitated, resulting in extra time needed to allow sows to settle before service.

The solution

A 15-metre extension cable was purchased so the AI cooler could be moved to the centre of the pen. This reduced the time to collect semen doses by 15 seconds.

The costs

15-metre extension cable at a cost of £10.

The benefits

  • A time saving of 15 seconds per dose across 48 serves equates to 12 minutes
  • With two services (minimum) per week, this is a saving of 24 minutes per week
  • 20 hours per year or £200 in labour (assuming £10 per hour wage); this is a conservative estimate as the back and forth often took longer than 15 seconds e.g. dodging sows

While staff found it challenging to notice 20 hours over a year, additional improvements were made to the AI process as a result of the waste walk and moving the cooler to the centre of the tent:

  • Fewer reports of staff collecting multiple AI doses to save on trips
  • Sows were less agitated
  • More time for checks, e.g. standing heat, hygiene and correct handling of semen
  • Staff felt less pressured and the AI process was a lot calmer