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US (WA): Lean Consortium wraps up first year with big gains

Members of the Washington Lean Consortium reported significant improvements when they met for final reports at Skagit Farmers Supply in Burlington.

Leaders from Botanical Designs, Skagit Farmers Supply Agronomy Division, Skagit Horticulture, and T&L Nursery worked together for one year to apply Lean in each others’ organizations. Reports from the year showed gains that exceeded expectations:
  • 67% productivity increase on a sedum trimming process at Skagit Horticulture, with 75 percent reduction in people travel.
  • 408% productivity gain for racking plants for installation jobs with Botanical Designs. The company cut lead time 81 percent, reduced people travel 75 percent, and eliminated $4,500 worth of unneeded inventory.
  • Reduced setup time by 67 percent at Skagit Horticulture’s Riverbend site, with a 26 percent shorter lead time and 23 percent smaller crew size for transplanting product. This team improved overall productivity 25 percent on the process.
  • Cut 5.25 seconds per plant at T & L Nursery in the process of pulling, cleaning, labeling and moving product to shipping racks.
  • 98% shorter lead time for truck loading at Botanical Designs’ Holiday Warehouse. By developing standard work, the process now deploys less than half the number of people and virtually eliminates errors.
  • Improved productivity 129 percent on a trimming process at T&L Nursery, reducing lead time by 58 percent.
  • 43% fewer process steps for managing inventory at Skagit Farmers Supply Agronomy North facility, with less paperwork, fewer errors, and better communication between departments.

“The Washington Lean Consortium quickly became a tight group,” said Corey Hill, Operations Manager for Skagit Horticulture. “Inspiration came from cooperation between the companies. When you host your customers, suppliers—and even competition—it locks you into thinking Lean and holds you accountable. It’s awesome to be a part of their improvements, too.”

Lean is a proven method for eliminating waste. It results in more value to customers, delivered at a lower cost, in a shorter time, with fewer defects and less human effort. Deployed effectively, Lean not only reduces waste, but brings a strong message of long-term commitment to employee development and continuous improvement.

“Lean has been an incredible tool for us to evaluate and improve our effectiveness,” said Natasha Blanchette, Botanical Designs Production Manager.

For more information:
The Peters Company
Elizabeth Peters

Publication date: 6/12/2018



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