Rising labor costs, a shrinking labor pool, and competition for skilled workers. Businesses across the U.S. are deploying Lean to deal with these critical issues. Some Oregon companies are taking this further by developing leaders through the Lean Consortium.
Lean is a proven method for eliminating waste that 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 increases employee engagement, a critical factor in retaining workers.
The Lean Consortium is a small group of companies that work together to learn principles and methods and then apply them to processes in each other’s businesses. Three people from each company complete a Lean Leader Course and serve on improvement events at different sites throughout the year.
These “kaizen events” involve direct, hands-on changes at the hosting company with a professional facilitator. The team makes rapid changes to immediately gain improvements and reinforce learning.
During the Consortium’s first event in 2022, Bailey Nurseries’ Yamhill Propagation site hosted a kaizen event to reduce waste and develop standard work for liner pulling and processing.
Three teams right-sized the crew, standardized setup time, developed standard work, and reduced product touches. More importantly, the event team engaged the crew in improving the flow of the overall operation.
The process now requires four fewer crew members to accomplish the same amount of work. The lead time was reduced by nearly 20 percent.
“The Peters and Consortium members helped us identify the waste and eliminate unnecessary steps,” said Scott Cowan, West Coast Container Manager with Bailey Nurseries. “This has resulted in streamlined processes and the ability to better utilize our production labor.”
Some results from 2021 Consortium events:
- Reduced product touches by 60 percent, cut searching time by 57 percent, and improved productivity by more than 30 percent in a shipping operation at Bailey Nurseries’ Dayton operation.
- Increased productivity by 53 percent by eliminating searching time and standardizing work for pulling products at JLPN of Salem.
- Cut product touches in half and increased productivity by 52 percent in a container planting operation at Robinson Nursery of McMinnville.