Customer satisfaction is the main goal of every business. After all, satisfied customers are loyal customers. This also applies to pig production. Excellence in delivery is as important as excellence in production, that is, to ensure that the demand is supplied as best as possible. Therefore, ideal delivery is one of the essential concepts of Thinking+1. Its aims at broadening the view on farm results.
The objective is to visualize not only how you are producing, but also how you are delivering your products. In practice, four essential factors of the ideal delivery need to be observed:
1) Quantity: in general, the customer states in the purchase order the number of animals that should be delivered at an established date. Based on this number, the farm may schedule weekly production to ensure this supply.
2) Quality: the customer also establishes quality criteria for the delivered products, such as type, weight, body frame, and genetics. As we know in advance the demands of the customer, we need to organize the production process to deliver the required quality.
3) Deadline: considering the quantity and quality demanded by the customer, the farm manager needs to calculate the time required for the delivery. This is a critical planning action, because the delivery date has a direct impact on final cost – the longer piglets take to achieve the desired weight, the higher are the costs.
4) Cost: the analysis of the costs needed to supply an order is essential to define if the contract is profitable. The comparison of production costs with sales price will tell you if the operation is profitable or not.
It should be noted that while quantity, quality, and deadline are determined by the customers, the producer is responsible for the costs. The lower the costs – provided the customer’s demands are supplied –, the more profitable is the business.
It is also important to emphasize that ideal delivery should also be included as a goal of the internal farm processes that should be achieved by the sectors involved in production. For instance, when the gestation unit receives the sows required by the farrowing unit, it must also check if the sows comply with the desired traits – proper body condition score, good health status, vaccination, etc.
Therefore, ideal delivery is part of pig production. Extracting the maximum production potential of the farm to supply the quantity and quality demanded by the customers at an acceptable cost and profit is the key to success. Manage your farm in this direction.
What about you? Do you already work with the ideal delivery concept?
Why am I not able to produce more? Why my business is not more profitable? All pig producers have asked these questions at least once. We believe the answers are in how farmers consider their operations.
Identifying problems means you need to stop looking at individual operational details, such as mating, weaning, farrowing, feeding, and vaccination, and to consider the farm as a business, analyzing the production process as a whole. The question then is: Where do I start?
Information is essential
Once you realize you farm could produce better results, you are already in the right path. Acknowledging symptoms is the first step for seeking solutions. The next step is to have good-quality information, which helps understanding what could be improved. Information is critical for diagnosis. When you see a doctor because you are feeling unwell, for instance, you expect him or her to request some tests. After all, if information is not sufficient, the probability of obtaining the correct diagnosis – and treatment – are reduced.
The same thing happens on the farm. To trace a problem, you need reliable and systematic information on production aspects. The figure below shows the key information required to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the farm.
This tree analysis provides a comprehensive view of the farm, and allows identifying the most critical point, which should be in the top of your priority list. This means that, despite the wide range of monitored indexes, it is possible – and required – to identify those that have a stronger impact on productivity and should be improved. Example: If the index “number of piglets weaned per sow per year” (WSY) is below the target, the problem may be farrowing rate or farrowing unit management.
I have identified the problems. What shall I do now?
The interpretation of the production data will allow you to identify the bottlenecks that prevent you from obtaining better results. If you have many, don’t be discouraged. You should prioritize the solutions for the problems that most affect productivity, and consequently, business profitability. During this process, do not forget to involve and train your team. When people understand the problems and the proposed solutions, they can become the agents of change.
What about you? Have you already made the diagnosis of your farm? Share your experience with us! Tell us in the comments section.
Quick question: have you gathered your team this week to assess production and to find solutions for the problems in your farm? If your answer is yes, congratulations! You are part of a still small group of pig farmers that started changing a critical cultural issue: the lack of time dedicated to discuss management.
We have observed that there often is communication among teams; however, in general, it consists of quick chats among a few workers during break time. The result is that much information and actions taken are lost, and consequently there is lack of coordination, increasing the chances of mistakes and rework, which negatively affects productivity.
To overcome this problem, we suggest you schedule at least one weekly meeting to talk about management, preferably on a fixed day and time to discuss farm workflow and production performance. You will soon realize the benefits of this simple practice: workers’ commitment with their tasks, better work relationships, problem solving, and goal achievement are just some of them.
What should you talk about?
One of the main concerns of managers with weekly meetings is wasting time. After all, everybody has always ‘other fish to fry.’ This vision is opposite to Thinking +1, because we are sure that every minute dedicated to discuss management issues and planning with the team results in time – and money – savings.
Once you establish the meeting schedule, you’ll realize that there is no lack of issues to be discussed. To guide the discussions, it is best to assess the deliveries of each sector, and particularly the points where the planned goals were not achieved. After identifying the critical points that prevent the farm from achieving its maximum production potential, you need to establish together a set of actions to solve each of the identified bottlenecks.
This process is much easier when visual management tools are used, as they allow all workers to understand and interpret information on farm productivity. For instance, when the whole team analyzes the Production Map during a meeting, the critical points are quite evident and it is much easier to define actions and the people responsible to solve them.
It must be noted that the objective of the weekly meeting is to produce alignment and harmony within the team – and not the opposite. As a leader, never allow the meetings to be associated with a negative time, of stress and disagreements, of looking for culprits for the farm’s problems. The aim is to look for solutions, not for someone to blame.
Another useful tip: stimulate the workers to express their opinions, as well as their achievements and difficulties. Some may be shy in the beginning, but once people realize they can speak out, that their ideas are welcome, they become increasingly at ease. When all participate, you farm harvests benefits!
What about you? Do you schedule regular meetings with your team?
Suppose that you propose a trip to your farm team. Then, after saying the city of destination and that you expect all there, you realize that your team has no idea how to get there. What would be your first reaction? You would probably would draw a map and give it to the team, wouldn’t you?
The need to visualize the paths that lead us to a desired destination is the rationale of one of the principles of Thinking +1: visual management. The proposal is to increase the access to information on farm productivity using simple visual elements that allow immediately understanding the current farm situation, the goals, and the obstacles to reach them.
This is the idea of the Production Map, a useful tool to achieve maximum production potential. In short, this map has precisely the same function of the map of a journey: to guide people to safely reach the final destination. In a pig farm, this destination is represented by the goals, which should be visually and clearly presented to all those involved in live production.
In addition of ensuring that the team is aligned, leading to a collective effort to reach a same goal, visual management has the power to engage people, because it allows everyone to objectively have access to critical information, and therefore, look for solutions for the detected problems. When provided with the correct information, presented in a proper and stimulating manner, the employees feel valued and belonging to a broader process, which is the continuous improvement of their workplace.
Check out the benefits of visual management:
1) Everything at sight: a visual management tool, such as the Production Map, provides the most relevant information on the production to all those involved in daily farm activities. We suggest you post it on the walls around the farm.
2) Just a glance allows you to know what is happening: in visual management, the quality of information is always more important than its quantity. Instead of a mass of data, choose key indicators to share with your team.
3) Crystal clear: the map summarizes the management complexity to the operational sectors. Each employee needs to understand the importance of his/her work for the improvement of the results.
4) Coordination effort: based on the map information, the team may identify deviations and search for solutions.
5) Information culture: the use of the map will make you team increasingly aware of indicators and data, improving the management of each production step.
6) More productive meetings: the map sets the agenda for the regular meetings to follow up the farm’s performance, making discussions more dynamic.
The Production Map is an excellent tool to put visual management into practice, but it is not the only one. Each worker may find other ways of visually sharing objectives, results, and challenges of their daily activities. You can rest assured that visual management will drive your team to reach safely the desired destination.
What about you? Do you use visual management tools? Have you tested the Production Map yet? Share your experience with us!
If you are a leader in your farm, you have certainly already realized that only when people are motivated and engaged they will search for excellence in the processes where they are involved. Usually, an engaged team is more committed to results, so that everyone works towards a common goal: the success of the business.
In order to identify and encourage this attitude among the workers at your farm, you must be able to know the difference between motivation and engagement. Motivation is the result of a series of reasons and personal beliefs, whereas engagement is what makes individuals search for a common goal where they work together. In practice, it is what makes people align their interests with those of the business and together look for common solutions.
Therefore, we could say that engagement is guided by motivation. So, it is up to you to find out what motivates farm workers, so that they engage in your project and try to achieve professional and personal success and the success for the business as a whole.
In the daily routine of pig production, rather simple practices are important to engage people. Everything tends to be better, for example, when a new coworker is properly prepared to perform his activities and is welcome by team, who will explain to him what the farm goals are, making clear how everyone’s jobs contribute to the end result.
Additionally, engagement is based on relationships of trust, respect and transparency that are established among team members and the leadership. In order to strengthen these relationships, follow the tips presented below:
1) Hold participatory meetings with your employees, preferably every week, giving them an opportunity to understand the overall performance of the farm and suggest areas for improvement.
2) Establish a transparent, clear and consistent communication with all those involved in production. This whole process benefits greatly from the use of visual management tools that allow everyone to get to know and interpret information on farm productivity. When the team is looking, for example, at a Production Map during a meeting, the critical points stand out and it becomes easier to set actions and define who will be in charge of solving them.
3) Never leave your coworkers without an answer or with doubts regarding the purpose of management and the goals set for the farm.
4) Encourage, stimulate and work on training of your team for the performance of activities and also for their professional development. The better prepared the team members are, the more engaged they will become.
Be assured that these four attitudes, which are not complex at all, will help you build a highly committed and efficient team. The more engaged with the business your team members are, the more they will work together, aligned and focused to reach your goals. When everyone feels they are important for the achievement of the final result, because they know their role and their share of contribution, the business will be positively impacted in different ways:
• The team will work with a focus;
• Less waste;
• People will unite towards the goals;
• Increased productivity;
• Overall improvement of farm results.
So, be assured that an engaged team will be much more productive!
Please tell us: how do you encourage the engagement of your coworkers?
The beginning of a new year always represents an opportunity for improvement – and this applies to people, companies and, of course, farms. After all, we have 12 months ahead to reach new goals and try to make better everything we are involved in. However, this process of transformation requires planning, something which unfortunately has never been really part of our culture.
In farms, we commonly find people who follow the “on-the-fly planning” practice. People who get their hands dirty, who work very hard and face problems as they appear. The greatest damage caused by this practice is the lack of predictability – every day in the farm is a new surprise, which takes time from managers, results in rework and does not allow people to project the future.
In order to avoid this cascade of problems, we need to think ahead where we want to get, trying to anticipate challenges that may come in our way. In a farm, the best way to build this route is by establishing targets based on the expected production performance, from January 1st to December 31st. These targets will guide activities – in the short, medium and long run – towards the maximum production potential, ensuring business profitability.
However, those who have not outlined the targets for 2016 yet are late! Ideally, these targets should have been set in July last year, when breeding of the animals to be delivered in January this year started. If the manager waits until December or January to set the farm targets, the delay in the process may affect results, with a negative impact on the search for the maximum production potential.
It is essential that planning is part of a routine in the farm, so that the manager dedicates time to define both the targets and the ways to achieve them. This organization is necessary so that we have clarity about all the deadlines to be met so that farm results are positive, reducing losses.
The most important element in the planning process is to set targets that are based on reliable information on the production history of the farm, in addition to industry indicators, so that we can compare this history with the results achieved by farms of the same size and with similar characteristics. The Agriness Best in Pig Production competition is an excellent tool for that, providing a complete benchmark of the industry. It will help you and your team to set targets that are feasible and correspond to reality.
The goal of a good manager will always be to work with proper planning, setting targets and establishing routes, shorter ways between the situation where they are right now and where they want to get. From there, it is much easier to predict how the year will be like at the farm, reducing risks (and unpleasant surprises).
In order to facilitate the follow-up, we suggest that annual targets of the farm as a whole are broken down into weekly targets and, in some cases, targets for different areas in the farm. In this process, it is fundamental that goals are shared with the whole team through visual management tools so that everyone feels engaged.
If this has not been done in your farm, it is time to try to catch up – you can do it! Additionally, you should not forget to set aside some time in your agenda this year for the 2017 planning. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to successfully run your business.
What about you? Have you been working with targets for your farm? Please tell us about it in the comments!