Value Stream Mapping

At our recent Lean Farming discussion group which was attended on-line by 38 farmers and advisors from America and Europe we discussed Value Stream Mapping, (VSM). VSM involves taking a step back from your business and looking at who the actual customers are for various operations on the farm.

VCM then looks at the process of supplying the customer and maps out all the steps involved, both the steps that add value and those that do not, which are called waste. The mapping does not just include the actual task. It also looks at the time taken, waiting time, number of people required for the task and machinery involved. This enables a clear picture to be drawn up of the operation and allow waste to be highlighted.

The customer is not just the milk buyer, abattoir or grain merchant. Within your business there are customers. A good example of this is the dairy cow. She is a customer on the farm. A dairy farmer wants their cows to produce milk. In order for the cow to do this she requires certain things to be provided to her, thus she is a customer.

In order for a dairy cow to perform to their optimum they require food, water and rest. Each of these areas has certain tasks that have to be completed in order to supply the customer with what she needs. The aim with VSM is to look at each of the processes involved in these requirements and identifying what tasks add value and what tasks are creating waste.

For example, when feeding a dairy cow with a TMR there are two processes, the mixing of the food and the delivery of the food. The process of mixing the TMR could be:

To this list you would add the time taken for the task. Once you have mapped the process you can then ask – where is the waste? For example, if the concentrates are stored on the other side of the farm to the silage it means that either the loader has to drive back and forth across the yard to pick up the concentrates or both the load and feeder wagon have to be driven between the two sites, with the operator having to walk back to collect one of the machines. Clearly there would be a lot of time wasted.

This is just one example, and every process on every farm will differ. The key is to take the time as a team to look at the various processes on farm and identify areas of waste that can be eliminated. Using a spaghetti diagram can help, see article last month. Doing this will save time and money.

To discuss Lean Farming further, contact Phil at or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Business Management, News, Sherborne.