Trim the Waste: Program Applies Lean Principles to Farm Management

(source: Toyota)
(source: Toyota)

“Lean” principles originally developed to increase efficiency and reduce waste in the automobile manufacturing sector are being applied in many other business and process-related sectors, including primary agriculture.

Toyota is often credited as the first company to develop and intentionally implement Lean principles in their assembly lines decades ago. Last year, the Agri-Food Management Institute, working together with the Synthesis Agri-Food Network, launched the AgLean Master Class program to help farmers follow these practices and improve their operational efficiency.

The five AgLean steps:

  1. Identify value.
  2. Identify the value stream
    — what creates value?
  3. Create a better flow.
  4. Establish pull.
  5. Strive for perfection.

“Lean principles are a set of essentially five steps that can apply into any process, whether it’s a manufacturing process, a business process, or an office process,” explains Garth Baxter, a coach with the AgLean Master Class program in the video below.

These steps help producers identify and eliminate the root causes of waste on a farm, whether it’s equipment downtime or other efficiencies that add to a farm’s cost of production, he explains.

A new six-month AgLean class is set to begin in September (enrolment is limited to 12 farmers or on-farm processors.) Participants in the program spend a total of four days in a classroom setting, with telephone coaching scheduled between the face-to-face meetings. As Baxter explains, each participant selects and works on improving a specific project or process in their business.

Editor disclosure: RealAg’s Bernard Tobin is also a part-time consultant with the Synthesis Network.

Related: TechTour Live: What’s the Must-Have Technology That Makes Your Farm Competitive?

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