Red Hen Training Day a Success!


Have you ever heard the phrase “LEAN Manufacturing”?

If you read our previous blog written by our owner, Gordon, about what he does during our off-season months, you might have caught that we were planning for a full-day of training on LEAN Manufacturing 101.

In addition to having our own employees attend this training, we also invited a handful of our landscaping / contractor customers.

The workshop was led by Jim Walsh and his assistant Harold.  For the general public, Jim holds LEAN 101 Workshops on a regular basis through the Michiana LEAN Network, typically at the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce facilities.  Gordon and our office manager, Lisa, had attended one of these workshops this January, and felt there was a great value in introducing the concept to our team.

LEAN 101 was initially developed at the national level by NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology) and locally by North Central Indiana Business Assistance Center (NCI) in partnership with local area Chambers of Commerce.

In a nutshell, “LEAN” is a way of describing elimination of waste in your operation.

Each company ultimately gets to decide how LEAN you want to be, but to make this decision you need some basic tools and an understanding of the 8 basic wastes. This knowledge and these tools, along with an all-day manufacturing simulation, is what you get when you attend a LEAN 101 Workshop.

Google “LEAN Manufacturing” or “LEAN 101” and there’s no shortage of results. CLICK HERE to view some videos about LEAN 101 if you’re curious.  The LEAN Enterprise Institute website is another great resource for more information, including some history on how the concept of LEAN evolved.

For one thing, LEAN gives you a way of labeling wastes, which might not sound like a huge deal, but unless you can recognize waste, you can’t effectively address it, and you probably don’t realize it even exists.

When LEAN is being described, depending on how the concept is being framed, there are roughly 8 or so different kinds of Wastes (and you can remember them by using the acronym TIM WOODS):

T – Transport – Moving people, products & information
I – Inventory – Storing parts, pieces, documentation ahead of requirements
M – Motion – Bending, turning, reaching, lifting

W – Waiting – For parts, information, instructions, equipment
O – Over production – Making more than is IMMEDIATELY required
O – Over processing – Tighter tolerances or higher grade materials than are necessary
D – Defects – Rework, scrap, incorrect documentation
S – Skills – Under utilizing capabilities, delegating tasks with inadequate training

The LEAN 101 Workshop includes a presentation with several hands-on activities that illustrate key points.  By the end of the day, it becomes pretty clear that there are ways that any business can identify Wastes that will make

The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. In a sense, LEAN means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.  Implementing LEAN is an ongoing process that includes getting ideas from every single person on your team, no matter what their job title might be.  With LEAN, your biggest asset is your Employees.

LEAN Principles | Image Source:

LEAN Principles | Image Source:

This was the first time that Jim had presented LEAN specifically to a group in the agriculture and landscaping industries.  Even so, between our Red Hen team members and our invited guests, there was quite a bit of discussion about how we all can begin thinking differently about our day-to-day operations in order to identify waste that adds little to no value for our customers.

Once more, we’d like to give a BIG THANK YOU to Jim and Harold for facilitating this workshop, and all of our Red Hen employees who attended, along with our guests who represented the following companies whose leadership is dedicated to continual improvement:

Thank You Note