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LEAN Training reduces the 16 hour day at Meon Springs Dairy

Company Background

Whitewool Farm is located in East Meon, near to Petersfield. The farm covers 1200 acres of the South Downs in Hampshire. Milk production is one of its main enterprises. The 400 Holstein Cows produce milk on a cost of production contract with Sainsbury’s. Margins are tight, making efficiency paramount. Jamie Butler runs the farm with his brother, Will, who is responsible for the arable farming, growing wheat, barley and oilseed rape and fodder maize. All of the maize and some of the wheat goes to feed the 400 head of cattle during winter.

To spread its risk, the farm has also diversified into Fly Fishing, Glamping Holidays, Corporate Events and it has converted a redundant pig unit into a Self-Storage business (Big Yellow in the Country). This all puts pressure on the management of the business, hence the need to develop effective lean systems in its main production enterprise.

Opportunity

Work in the dairy unit starts at 4.45am and finishes at 9pm – an extremely long day. Fedden USP were called in to try and identify opportunities to improve processes in the dairy to enable the team to go home earlier every day!

Methodology & Objectives

LEAN principles, tools and techniques were used to identify value added and non-value added activities. The primary value added activities were, of course, the welfare of the animals and the milking process. A two-day workshop was undertaken covering LEAN theory and mapping on Day 1, with Analysis involving future state mapping and action planning on Day 2.

Some classroom-style teaching was undertaken on LEAN tools and techniques, followed by process mapping the stages of certain activities to identify wastes such as excessive walking to do or collect things, and the workplace layout and organisation – to identify the most convenient and productive locations for tools and equipment. Jamie then led the team on data capture and analysis; this quantified the existing process in times and distances.

On receipt of the data and subsequent analysis of the non-value added activities, a future state or proposed process was mapped out and the potential savings quantified. Part of the resulting action plan was to try out new tools and methods for managing the labour intensive sand beds. Many innovative ideas were used, deriving from the visual management principles reviewed to help with the sequencing of the cows into the milking parlour itself.

Results

After implementing the initial ideas on tools and locations and installing the new visual management systems, Jamie was able to confirm that around 1½ hours a day were being saved in the dairy.
For a team that rises at the crack of dawn and works long hours as a matter of course, this was a significant benefit and relief!

Comments

Fedden USP Training Consultant Colin Allaway, commented: “It was a real pleasure working with Jamie and his team and the care and attention they give to the animal’s welfare was self-evident. It was an interesting experience taking the lean tools and techniques into a new area for Fedden – and delivering a result. The Meon Springs facility is very impressive with its Fly Fishing and Yurts plus the arable side of the farm as well as the dairy. We look forward to working with Jamie and his team as they explore other areas of the business which could benefit from lean and business improvement. We wish them all well – a great team.”
Jamie Butler added: “For those who have already implemented Lean management systems, this will seem like old hat. However, just when you think you’ve made the value/non-value distinction, you take another look at your system and find a whole new raft of activities that you’re doing which, if you’re honest, are probably not adding a great deal of value. Having undertaken this exercise on our dairy farm, we’ve found that we are probably walking half a kilometre a day more than we need due to poor configuration of equipment and we have the potential to save about 1.5 hours per day by implementing a few simple measures.”


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