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【5S Case Study】 Using Toyota’s 5S on a farm? “The Lean Farm” by Ben Hartman – Book Review

【5S Case Study】 Using Toyota’s 5S on a farm? “The Lean Farm” by Ben Hartman – Book Review
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【5S Case Study】 Using Toyota's 5S on...

In this post, we’ll learn how to practice Toyota’s 5S in farming from the book, “The Lean Farm” by Ben Hartman. He practices the Lean Method in his farm.

(Duration: 8:01)

<<Detailed Info. for “The Lean Form” by Ben Hartman>>

<<Ben Hartman’s New Book: The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables>>

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Applications of the Lean Method (the Toyota Production System) to Farming

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma, Black Belt.

I recently interacted with one of my viewers who has a farming business. That drew my attention to farming and I learned that Lean Sigma and TPS, the Toyota Production System, have been well utilized in this field.

Toyota Farming Operation Service

The creator of TPS, Toyota, has developed smart phone apps and an operation system for farming and started consulting with large scale farm companies in Japan.

In the US, more young people have recently bought farmland and been increasing production with the Lean method. Some people call TPS the Lean Method. Ben Hartman who lives in Indiana, published a book that he wrote on his experience decreasing wastes and increasing production with the Lean Method. I bought the book and I’m currently reading this book.

The Lean Farm Book Cover

The title of this book is “The Lean Farm”: “How to minimize waste, increase efficiency, and maximize value and profit with less work”. That is a common phrase in the world of manufacturing, but for the theme of this book, that sounds very attractive.

Since this book is all about the author’s experience, it’s very practical and persuasive. He also studied the Lean Method well, so this book explains Lean’s basics and has many quotations such as Ohno Taiichi’s. Therefore, it’s beneficial for everyone.

I was curious what the theme of Chapter 1 in this book was. It was 5S. It’s significant that the 5S comes first in the book. It’s fundamental for any company in any industry to make sure to complete 5S when they start using Lean Sigma and the Lean Method. If the workplace is not organized, it hides waste that you want to eliminate and the morale of employees will also fall.  I made a video about 5S basics. If you haven’t watched that yet, please click on the link below to watch it.

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How to Use the 5S in a Farm

We can easily imagine that it’s very hard to keep clean and organized in a farm. Today I’ll show you how the farm team succeeded with each step of 5S on the farm.

1) ‘Sort’: Separate everything into keeps and throw-aways

The first step of 5S is ‘Sort’. Here is the author’s quote:

“Ruthlessly eliminate anything that is not absolutely necessary for your production system.”

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Since farms have a lot of space, old unwanted items tend to be left around forever. It seems that they and devoted staff took several weeks to dispose of all that.  In order to sort and screen the things to keep and throw away, they conducted a ‘Red Tag Strategy’. They asked themselves the next questions for each thing:

1) “Is the item really needed?”

2) “If so, is it needed in this quantity?”

3) “If it is needed, does it need to be located here?”

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With these questions, you can discard many things, reduce the number, or move it to a more appropriate place. However, you may have things that you don’t use now, but can’t throw away.  They made a ‘Red-Tag Room’ and bring those things to the room.  Since there are auctions in spring and autumn, they made a policy to bring all leftover things to the auctions.  It’s perfect.

2) ‘Set in order’: Decide designated storage places for all kepts.

Next is ‘Set in order’. Decide designated storage places for all kept things. The author’s criterion is “”in such a way that a ten-year-old can easily find things they are asked to bring”. To accomplish this, they took all the tools out of the tool box, put hooks and magnets on the wall, and hung all the tools there.

5S, Set In Order Before and After Pictures

Before 5S, shown in the above image on the left, they stored all tools in one place, but they wasted their time walking there. Now, as shown in the above image on the right, they arranged only the necessary tools and placed them right at each work place.

3) ‘Shine’: Clean all workplaces

Next is ‘Shine’, which cleans all workplaces. It seems that this stage was quite a difficult job for them.

5S, Shine Before and After Pictures

The above image on the left is before 5S. You cannot shine wooden surface walls or counters, so they painted the walls and installed stainless steel equipment. Also, having good lighting is very important.  Then, the same area now became like the above image on the right.  He also says,

“If a place starts out clean, it motivates workers to keep it clean.”

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Well, a dirty place becomes a dirtier place.

4) ‘Standardize’: The first 3S should always be conducted the same way

The next stage is ‘Standardize’. The first 3S: ‘Sort’, ‘Set in order’ and ‘Shine’ should always be conducted the same way.  At first, they tried a checklist to achieve this, but it didn’t work well.  Then, they took pictures of cleaned conditions for each work place and put them on the walls as examples with short instructions as shown in these pictures below.  With this, workers can understand what they have to do at a glance, so it’s very effective.

5S, Standardize Posters

5) ‘Sustain’: Make a mechanism to keep things in that condition constantly

The last step is ‘Sustain’.  After cleaning and organizing completely, and also making standards, you should make a mechanism to keep things in that condition constantly.  The author says that it’s important to make putting away and cleaning a part of everyday work.  When he gives daily instructions to workers, he includes where to clean each day.  The pictures on the wall will be very effective at that time.

I was already impressed after reading Chapter 1 because the author’s team utilized 5S on farmland so well. I am looking forward to the subsequent chapters. Probably I’ll make other review posts as I go further into the book.

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