If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it

Looking for more efficient ways of working and analysing data to make better informed business decisions is the approach AHDB’s Pork Knowledge Exchange team is taking with its Monitor Farm programme.

Andrew Palmer, AHDB Knowledge Exchange relationship manager
Andrew Palmer, AHDB Knowledge Exchange relationship manager

Working closely with lean management consultant, Neil Fedden, AHDB is introducing lean management techniques to pig farms; they have seen impressive results so far.

We launched the programme with a series of online sessions that introduced six pork Monitor Farms to the concept of waste walks.

Analysing familiar routines in this way was a simple means of introducing lean tools and techniques to each pig business.

Farm staff took part in a group discussion to identify ways in which routines could be improved to reduce the amount of time taken to carry them out.

Waste can relate to many areas, for example, transport and unnecessary movement around the site, broken equipment or skills being underutilised.

The next stage of the lean management training involved holding Kaizen workshops at each monitor farm.

Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement and is used as a technique to make continuous improvements through small, ongoing positive changes.

The workshops brought the business managers and the pig unit teams together to look for solutions to the problems that each business was currently experiencing and how to improve farm operations.

They identified large savings by introducing some of the ideas and suggestions that came out of the workshop.

These have resulted in more efficient labour routines and processes, saving time and money.

The results speak for themselves. Out of the three Monitor Farms that have completed the Kaizen workshops to date, a combined annual cost saving of more than £330,000 has been identified.

The final phase of the programme uses end-to-end value stream mapping (VSM) to identify potential areas for improvement and evaluate action taken.

The VSM provides an overview of the whole business. Production and costs are set against industry key performance indicators (KPIs) and cost of production figures.

This provides a data-driven approach to making decisions and identifying key areas to focus on, and where financial savings can be made.

Introducing our Monitor Farms to lean management has enabled AHDB’s Knowledge Exchange team to engage with levy payers to help them improve the profitability of their businesses.

By introducing more efficient labour routines and processes, identified through the application of lean management techniques, genuine cost savings have already been made and more are on the way.

Andrew Palmer is AHDB Knowledge Exchange relationship manager

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