Build on Henry Ford
Redesigning your process to perform the work progressively is one of the best ways to achieve better productivity. Henry Ford designed his assembly line in a progressive fashion. Every station on the assembly line did a portion of the car. We take Henry Fords’ concept and apply it to many different areas in growing operations. On sticking or transplant lines, the planting work is split up across multiple people, where the first person does the first third of the tray, the second person does the second third and the third person completes the last third of the tray, as opposed to having one person do an entire tray.
Split the Work
Another example might be on a shipping dock where you process your plants. Instead of overloading a processing table full of plants, where the operators must keep touching every plant 2-3 times each to ensure that each plant has all its tags, stakes and labels. Set the work up in a progressive flow line, where one person cleans, followed by the next person who labels, followed by the last person who tags and then loads the plant onto the shipping rack.
Pace and Motivation
No matter where you need help, progressive work (I do part of the work, then pass it to you, where you do part of the work, and the pass it to another person, etc.) is always more productive than single station build (one person doing the entire job). Why? One reason is pace of work. When people depend upon each other, they create an inherent pace, as opposed to working on an island where you only depend on yourself, it’s your motivation and only your motivation that sets your pace.
Efficiencies come from controlling this pace and balancing the line by removing any downtime or waste between the operations. How is this done? By designing the operations with IPKs (In-Process Kanbans) or small buffers of work-in-process (WIP) to allow for any imbalances between processes. Meaning, if one person finishes before the next person, they can just start working on the next unit in the IPK instead of depending on a perfectly balanced line and waiting for the other person to finish.
Progressive work also allows for better quality. We can incorporate checks and double checks into the processes progressively instead of having a checker at the end of the line. By finding an issue at the source (where the work was done), we reduce the rework and increase the quality of the entire system.