Dairy industry introduced to efficiency system

When you use the word ''lean'' in the farming area, it's usually applied in the context of meat and fat content, but a Lean system developed for dairy farmers is something else entirely.

The Lean management process being introduced for dairy farms has its roots with car company, Toyota. The objective being that, as with the production of cars, producing milk would benefit from smoother, more efficient processes and little waste in the system.

The FarmTune system, developed by DairyNZ for dairy farmers, is built on the principles of Lean, and helps dairy farmers sharpen their operations and increase efficiency and environmental performances.

''We are basically looking to provide farmers with tools to improve their business,'' Lynsey Stratford said.

Ms Stratford is a consultant with People Management and Development (PeopleMAD) which runs FarmTune workshops.

''We work with farmers to analyse and develop their on-farm processes.''

At a FarmTune workshop in Gore last week she said the programme ran across a three-month period and included seven half-day workshops.

The Lean approach is widely used to improve business performance in a range of industries and sectors.

DairyNZ's Lean management project manager Sarah Watson said it was about running a business that supported continuous improvement.

''Lean thinking aims to minimise waste in the farm system, removing anything that isn't adding value to the process'', she said.

''It's about having a long-term approach that systematically achieves small, incremental changes in processes to improve efficiency and quality.''

The seven workshops cover finding opportunities, problem-solving, implementing and embedding solutions, and sustaining progress.

Areas within farming systems which had potential for improvement included overproduction, transport, waiting time, over-processing, inventory, defects, motion and unused talent.

''Key to implementing 'Lean thinking' are the concepts of purpose, process and people'', Ms Watson said.

''Purpose is about why taking a Lean thinking approach is important to the business and its people, process is how the business makes sure each step in the process is valuable, adequate and that all of the steps are linked well.''

She said the final part of the system, people, was about building a culture where people were responsible for continually evaluating the processes so everyone was engaged in improving it.


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