One Piece Flow Helps Oregon Nursery Cut Shipping Times

One Piece Flow Helps Oregon Nursery Cut Shipping Times

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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An Oregon plant nursery has taken Lean principles to the greenhouse, improving the efficiency of both workflow processes and the company’s shipping operation. It’s yet another example of how Lean principles, started in manufacturing, can generate improvements in all types of industries.

Robinson Nursery, in Yamhill County, Oregon, has used Lean tools and techniques for years to address different areas of the operation, according to a recent newsletter from the nursery.

The Journey of the Plant

Robinson Nursery has used Lean to address issues with different operations in the past. According to the newsletter, they have used Lean to map “the journey of the plant…from being pulled out of production to being loaded on the shipping truck. The steps that added value to the product were identified and we began looking for ways to eliminate the rest.”

That last sentence is a summation of what Lean is all about. The methodology looks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of process, always with the end user in mind. Lean identifies eight areas of waste that organizations and individuals should focus on: defects, overproduction, waiting, non-value added processing, transportation, inventory, motion and unused talent.

In putting Lean to use, Robinson Nursery has found three main areas of “frustration” that Lean helped them overcome:

  • Batch processing
  • Poor communication
  • Unclear standard work

Cutting Process Time in Half

The nursery partnered with The Peters Company on the latest project, which involved applying Lean to the shipping operation, particularly the process of pulling and preparing trees for shipping. Headquartered in Oregon, The Peters Company is a process improvement consultant firm.

The two held a Kaizen event – a Lean term meaning that a specific group of people focus on nothing but solving a challenge over a short period of time. In this case, it was a three-day event. During the Kaizen event, the nursery discovered that over processing and waiting were both issues for the operation.

For example, trees were being taken to a central location where a netting machine was located, then afterward loaded onto a truck. By simply changing the location of the netting machinery to where the trees are pulled, the company eliminated unneeded lifting and carrying of the trees to a central location.

The result: It previously took three days to process a full truck of about 3,200 trees. Now, it takes a day and half with “greater accuracy and less strain on the team,” according to the newsletter, which also added that morale has improved on the team.

Also, the period where employees, supervisors and managers all worked together to share ideas and experiment with different methods led to a bonding between them that has continued.

One Piece Flow

A key component of the change was the use of One Piece Flow, sometimes referred to as Single Piece Flow. In contrast to batch processing, One Piece Flow means producing products to meet consumer demand – a key component to the approach of Just in Time manufacturing.

The word “one” does not mean one item, but one customer request. The idea is to make products when a customer needs them, not before. That requires determining the time it takes to create the product and get it into consumer hands, which in Lean is known as takt time.

It is designed to cut down on processing between operations. It eliminates some of the very same wastes experienced at the nursery, including wasted motion, jams in the process causing people to wait and non-value-added processing.

Rick Peters, president of The Peters Company, told Greenhouse Grower that “One Piece Flow is the fastest way to translate raw material into finished products. Anytime you see inventory or raw materials building up between steps in a process, you have an opportunity to remove waste.”

Across All Industries

The Peters Group offers case studies on its website that show how Lean process improvement techniques can help companies in all industries become more efficient. Among the cases included are:

  • A Seattle-based landscape company used Lean to better organize the company’s yard of plants and tools needed for ongoing projects
  • The Yamhill County election board’s use of Lean for ballot processing resulted in the elimination of 192 non-value-added steps and a 66% reduction in ballot processing time
  • A greenhouse operation used Lean to cut down on waste in the selection of hanging baskets that, among other gains, cut down the cost per basket from 82 cents to 17 cents

The post One Piece Flow Helps Oregon Nursery Cut Shipping Times appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: admin
Posted: January 10, 2019, 3:59 pm

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