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UK: Growers learn management techniques from car industry

Getting the best from staff is becoming more important as concerns around labour availability increase for growers. AHDB’s Labour Efficiency Workshops aimed to address these concerns by encouraging commercial horticultural businesses to adopt ‘Lean’ and ‘Champion’ principles, with workshops in Kent and Warwickshire on the 28 and 30 November.

Growers heard from industry leaders – including Neil Fedden of Fedden USP Ltd, a consultancy business helping to implement ‘Lean’ principles into the workforce.

He said: “The biggest value for people attending the workshops has been to come along and listen to examples from other industries such as the car industry about what they can do to improve productivity - simple techniques that people can start using the next day.”

AHDB Horticulture Chairman Gary Taylor, who introduced the event, said: “These workshops show that ‘Lean’ and ‘Champion’ can be adopted by anybody and everybody. It’s a low cost, capital investment that can provide real significant gains. This could deliver real benefits not just to horticulture but other industries.

“Horticulture is very diverse, we have somewhere in the region of 352 crops split across 6 sectors, Lean is applicable to all sectors and any size or shape of business.”

Growers were shown case studies of six diverse horticultural businesses to understand some of the key lessons, which helped shape action plans for their own businesses.

Peter Bowen of performance management company MPL, delivered one of the key take-home messages for growers when he stressed the importance of collecting performance-related data at regular intervals.

“All horticultural management should incorporate the regular collection of performance-related shift data at frequent intervals. Data driven operations management is a core skill of all continuously improved horticultural business.”

Growers were also introduced to the idea of ‘Champion Supervisors’ by Chris Rose, of Chris Rose Associates – a farm manager with 12 years of experience in a large fruit business.

He added: “Champion supervisors are people focused, they want to see the success of the people they supervise and coach for excellence. The challenge is to develop champion supervisors to help the labour force to reach their full potential, the sky is the limit.”

AHDB’s Labour Efficiency Workshops are set to continue in 2018 with two further events planned for Lincolnshire and Lancashire.

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