Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium Launched

Wilsonville, OR – February 12, 2016
A new consortium has been launched where nurseries and greenhouse operations work together to deploy Lean principles in their businesses.

Leaders with the Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium have committed to learning and applying principles of lean – or the Toyota Production System – together for one year. Top practitioners in each company meet for one-day sessions at a hosting nursery. Each session involves rapid training on a continuous improvement principle or tool, followed by immediate application and improvement.

Lean is a proven method for eliminating waste that results in more value to customers delivered at a lower cost, in a shorter time, with fewer defects and less human effort. Initial results are often dramatic. It is common to see productivity improvements from 40 – 70 percent the first time Lean principles are effectively deployed in an area.

The first consortium session was held at an Oregon greenhouse operation on February 3. Two teams focused on a planting process, targeting the time it takes to change from one product type to the next, and the time and steps starting up the line at the beginning of each day. Company leaders determined to cut these times in half. The teams exceeded these expectations, reducing changeover time by 67 percent and startup by 56 percent. If the crew is able to apply the changes recommended by the teams, the company expects to benefit from staff time savings equivalent to $16,000 in the next six months.

“The challenge of Lean is sustaining the gains over the long term,” said consortium instructor Rick Peters. “Many resist change because it’s uncomfortable—it’s human nature. We will spend a lot of time this year working to develop and help leaders drive a culture of continuous improvement, which is key to making this work. It takes strong leadership and tenacity to make significant, ongoing improvements in an organization.”

Four companies are currently involved in the consortium: Smith Gardens Aurora, Robinson Nursery, PRT Oregon, and Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas. Companies interested in participating can contact Elizabeth Peters, 503-250-2235 or epeters@petersco.net for information and an application form.