Cows Are Like Cars

Tree Langdon
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The auto industry uses the LEAN system to boost productivity by 30%. If we use it on farms, imagine how many more people we could feed.

The Lean manufacturing system was used in automotive assembly lines to improve efficiency. Then Hiroyuki Hirano added 5S principles to the Lean system and integrated these principles into Toyota’s manufacturing line.

That brought the company international recognition as a prolific producer of high-quality autos. In Japan, they call this kaizen.

In The Lean Farm, author Ben Hartman describes how to use 5S principles and the Lean manufacturing process to minimize waste and maximize value with less work.

“Our production goal is to farm efficiently but also as gently on the earth as possible.” Ben Hartman

Companies that adopt kaizen can boost their productivity by as much as 30%. Hartman experienced a similar result: he produces a larger yield on smaller acreage.

I love it when a system that works in one industry can be applied in a completely different industry with similar results.

5S Philosophy

One powerful Lean manufacturing tool is the 5S philosophy. Each S stands for a Japanese word that defines a way of working.

  1. Seiri — sort and simplify
    Go through your buildings and premises and eliminate everything that isn’t essential for production. Examples are rusted tools, parts, or scrap. The idea is to eliminate clutter and simplify. One tool can perform many different tasks.
  2. Seiton — set in order
    Every tool has a place.
    Store tools where you use them the most.
    Store tools where you can see them.
    Store tools based on use.
  3. Seiso — shine
    Clean, paint, polish, and organize your premises neatly. Everything should end up in a nearly new state.
  4. Seiketsu — standardize
    For the farm, use the same size or type of pots for all plants. Use the same size buckets in all areas so they are interchangeable. Common standards also include standardized ways of working.
  5. Shitsuke — Sustain
    Double-check the system each year.
    Review all systems regularly.

When any system is subjected to the 5S principles, they reduce waste in many forms. Wasteful movement, waiting times, or wasting time and cutting out steps in the process that aren’t necessary.

It’s a system that can be adopted by many industries.

Marie Kondo uses a similar method in her KonoMari method of tidying up.

Her basic philosophy is only to keep things that speak to the heart or spark joy.

  1. Seiri — sort and simplify
    Beginning with a category of belongings (books or clothes, etc), eliminate everything that isn’t essential to your life.
  2. Seiton — set in order
    Put items in their proper place.
  3. Seiso — shine
    Fold clothes neatly. Arrange books by color. Set your belongings in order.
  4. Seiketsu — standardize
    Use this standardized process for all categories of belongings. Step by step, you will reduce your belongings and eliminate the wasted effort of caring for belongings you don’t need or don’t use.
  5. Shitsuke — Sustain
    Continue to use this process regularly.

If LEAN and 5S can be used in industry, farming, and tidying up, imagine what else it could improve in your life.

Do you think you could use the 5S Lean System in your business?

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I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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