With Lean Flow Implementations, Size doesn't Matter

Have you ever heard the statement "Lean Flow is great for the large corporations, but what about me"? Or maybe you've said, "I would love to implement Lean Flow, but we are too small" Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common misconception. The advantage of a Lean Flow implementation is that all of the decisions are math-based. Lean Flow calculations help determine the best practices for your organization, take the emotion out of your decision making, and also make the size of your organization irrelevant. Just ask Ken James, the CEO of James Greenhouses in Colbert, Georgia.

Ken and his wife Leah have about 2 acres of plug production under roof, in the town of Colbert, about 90 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. Ken has seen his small business grow every year. Being the alert businessman that he is, Ken decided he needed to address not only potential efficiency issues with his growing company, but standardization issues as well. He felt that "more standardization now will benefit me in the long run." It turns out Ken was right. This is where his Lean Flow journey began.

Ken's first step on this journey was to attend a two-day Lean Flow Line Design Workshop conducted by FlowVision. Ken knew, after attending this workshop that he was on the right track with his thoughts on using standardized, efficient work processes. He then contracted with FlowVision to implement Lean Flow throughout his facility. FlowVision sent Senior Consultant Steve Forkey to James Greenhouses to work along with Ken's Lean Flow team, to address both efficiency and standardization. During the implementation, Ken also recognized he could improve his current planning process.

Starting in the production area, FlowVision worked alongside the Production Manager to determine proper labor resource staffing. This was, of course, based on mathematical calculations established using customer requirements, standard work time and hours available to do work. By standardizing the work content and implementing a Lean Flow technique called "Progressive Sticking", FlowVision was able to help James Greenhouses achieve an immediate 30% labor-productivity increase.

Once the production area was running smoothly, the Lean Flow team moved on to the sorting and shipping areas. Using the same mathematical calculations used for production, the team was able to balance the labor resources between the appropriate number of workstations in sorting and shipping. The product now flowed more efficiently through these areas, resulting in a 25% productivity increase.

During the process of balancing labor in these departments, FlowVision and the James Lean Flow team documented their new work flows, at the task level. This documentation ensures consistency, standardization, repeatability, workforce flexibility and ease of new-hire training. All this means James can now sustain their Lean Flow gain. This documentation, such as Standard Operations Worksheets, Multi Product Process Flow Sheets and Visual Instruction Sheets, are used to not only train and certify the employees but to help management run their respective departments on a daily basis. The ability to sustain all of the hard work put in during the implementation is imperative to the success of Lean Flow. The documentation FlowVision helps the clients obtain greatly assists in achieving this sustainability.

James Greenhouses started out small - perhaps like you - but is growing rapidly. Ken's last year sales were up 56% with 2009 following closely! This growth could be overwhelming for many operations, but not for Ken. He feels that because of his Lean Flow training through FlowVision, and the new processes they helped to put in to place, James Greenhouse is well prepared to handle any growth that comes their way.


Please join us for at the OFA Short Course July 11, 2009

“We have been extremely pleased to have FlowVision help us increase our efficiencies at our nursery. Using math-based analysis, we figured our payback was within 6 months on each implementation we have done. We have Increased our shipping capacity by 20% with no capital expenditures and increased our propagation productivity by 30%. We have been working with FlowVision for several years, and continue to see the value in it. We think so much of FlowVision’s abilities that we put on a seminar for our key customers so they could also see the benefits. I highly recommend FlowVision, and encourage anyone to investigate what they can do for your business.”

Dave Van Belle
General Manager

Van Belle Nursery
Abbotsford, BC Canada

Now more than ever is the time to look at improving your methods, and processes to be in business when the economy turns around. To learn how your company can improve utilizing the tools of Lean Flow, contact Gary Cortés at cortes@flowvision.com or at 1.561.301.8740.

FlowVision, LLC •  PO Box 1585 • 113 Landon Lane • Dillon, CO 80435 • Phone: 970.262.6536 •  Fax: 970.468.1840
E-mail us at: info@flowvision.com