Case study: Save time strawing up on a farrow-to-finish pig unit

Find out how the simple hack of hanging a penknife from a bale trolley saved one farmer £90 per year.

Back to: Lean management case studies in the pork sector

The problem

The unit: independent producer with 1,000 sows on an indoor farrow-to-finish unit.

Sheds are mucked out three times a week and provided with fresh straw. However, through conducting a waste walk, the team realised that at least once a week (if not more), they wouldn’t have a penknife to hand to cut the string around the bales. As a result, someone has to go and look for a knife before the task can continue. While it only takes five minutes to find a knife and return to the task, this time soon adds up and also breaks the flow of the task.

The solution

Two solutions were discussed among the team:

  1. Attach a penknife to the bale trolley with a chain so there is always a knife to hand.
  2. Keep a length of bale twine on a nail by the door to split the bales using friction.

The costs

Both solutions are low-cost options: £10 for a penknife and chain, or no costs for option two.

The benefits

The estimated time saved from not having to look for a knife when mucking out equates to:

  • 10 minutes per week
  • 9 hours per year, or one shift (assuming a 9-hour day)
  • £90 per year in labour costs (assuming £10 per hour wage)

The farmer reported that with this task completed more quickly, time could be put into other areas of production to yield further efficiencies across the business.