Oprettet: 18-09-2019

What is Lean?

Lean is about creating more value by using fewer resources. Lean means “slim” and aims to increase productivity through efficiency improvement. They say that Lean is organized common sense.

The system dates back to the Toyota factories that avoided mass firings in the 1960s by changing the pro-duction mindset into what we nowadays call Lean.

Lean is not a cut-and-dried solution that can be implemented all at once, instead it is an ongoing process. To a large extent, the purpose of Lean is to create a culture in which both managers and employees con-stantly look for smarter ways to organize their work tasks.

The 5 principles of Lean

Lean is based on the following 5 principles:

  1. Understand how value is created.
  2. Identify the activities that do not create value but waste, and immediately remove the sources of this waste while in the longer run you work on removing the remaining waste in steps 3, 4 and 5.
  3. Create flow in the production by allowing the products to flow through the processes with fewest possible stops and changes in responsibility.
  4. Implement pull management in the production, allowing the “customer” to decide what and when to produce based on his needs.
  5. Implement ongoing improvements. Mobilize the entire organization and create the wish to complete ongoing improvements based on steps 1, 2, 3 and 4. Provide the competencies and make the or-ganization responsible so as to ensure an overview and improvements all around the organization and not only in individual parts.

The expression ”Kaizen” is used for continuous improvements. It is Japanese and means “change for the better”.    

Description of waste and examples from cattle farming

All Lean tools aim to remove waste from the production to increase efficiency. Lean works with 8 types of waste.

Situations may occur in which the removal of all waste is an impossible task. In this type of situation, Lean works with improvement by finding the best possible solution and making the most of a given situation.    


Production of more milk than the quota allows.  
Mixing of more feed than needed.
Overproduction of roughage which cannot be sold at a good price.


Using large machines for tasks that could easily be carried out with a smaller and cheaper machine.
Transportation, for instance to a stack in the field.
Poor logistics at the farm, causing more driving than necessary.

Waiting time

Turn off the water when the trough is filled.
Colostrum cannot be obtained till after milking.
Employees await their turn to be helped by a colleague.

Over processing

Cleaning just for the sake of cleaning
Preferring traditions for new and more efficient solutions.
Mixing 5 different loads of feed although 3 different loads cover the needs of the animals.


Stale feed that needs to be thrown away.
Money tied up in too large quantities of stocked items.
Occupy storage space with unnecessary items.


Poor coverage of ensilage.
Uncertainty as to whether a work procedure leads to different results.
Dead animals.


Searching for tools.
Manual labor when machines can carry out the task.
Getting on and off the tractor to drive through the gate.

Unutilized knowledge

The employees are not only extra hands, they also have useful knowledge.
Course experiences are not shared.
Division of tasks without taking the competencies of the employees into consideration.   

Sidst bekræftet: 18-09-2019 Oprettet: 18-09-2019 Revideret: 18-09-2019



Vibeke F. Nielsen

Sundhed og produktion

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