Markus Lattner has noticed that the concept of lean thinking is growing in every area of business. As an improvement manager in the agriculture industry, Markus Lattner has studied lean manufacturing principles with interest, knowing they have applications to all aspects of agriculture.
For vegetable growers, Markus Lattner supports the 5S method of lean manufacturing. This process can be broken down into five areas:
- Sort—The first step is to look at your tools and equipment and eliminate anything you don’t need. Markus Lattner has found that many farmers have far more equipment and tools than they’ll ever use. Remove those items you haven’t used in years and move items you only occasionally need to an area where they are accessible but not in the way.
- Straighten— Markus Lattner stresses the importance of a neat, clutter-free operation. Consider not only your own daily use, but also the daily use of your workers. Having frequently used items in an easy-to-find space can save minutes throughout the day—minutes that add up over the course of a week, month, or year, according to Markus Lattner.
- Shining—This relates to keeping work areas spotless, Markus Lattner describes, but it also relates to accident prevention. By keeping clutter and garbage off floors and your land, you’ll prevent accidental slips and falls, keep your equipment and tools in good condition, and protect the environment. This reduces worker downtime and helps protect you against workers compensation claims.
- Standardizing—One of the most important parts of lean thinking is creating precise procedures for all processes for your workers, Markus Lattner explains. These standards should be put in writing, taught, and include the time a process takes, the exact sequence of the work and the amount of inventory needed to keep the process smooth, according to Markus Lattner. These concepts can be reinforced by creating important facets of your policies in signage to be displayed around major work areas.
- Sustaining—Lean manufacturing standards are nothing without consistent, continued enforcement and continuous improvement. This, Markus Lattner states, requires getting your workers on board with your plans. Without consistent practice, Markus Lattner has found operations eventually go back to the way they originally were.
There’s another “S,” too, Markus Lattner adds. This sixth “S” is safety, which is a critical piece of the puzzle that can’t be ignored in any area of manufacturing. Safety should be an important part of every lean manufacturing standardization, and Markus Lattner believes the steps of the 5S plan resolve many safety issues that might come up.
Having worked in many facets of manufacturing, Markus Lattner is well acquainted with lean manufacturing in all his years of experience. Markus Lattner concludes that by standardizing operations, vegetable growers can be more efficient and save money.