How a cattle ranch can implement lean to run more efficiently

Subject: Science
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 9
Word count: 2293
Topics: Agriculture, Business Ethics, Ecology


There are different lean manufacturing concepts that boost productivity in cattle farming. The first concept is the lean manufacturing notion 5S that maintains neat and organized workspace. The five S stands for standardize, sustain, set, shine and sort. When a farm decides to implement these five S then all unnecessary supplies and work tools must be removed from workspace through sorting. All the necessary tools like keyboard, computers, and filing system must be placed in order. Cleaning is important because it creates shining and must be done consistently for standardization. Involving all these practices is known as sustaining. The phases of lean implementation are important in running a cattle ranch. The first phase is known as organizational development. In this phase, the manufacturer clarifies the mission and vision values and establishes key performance indicators.

Another important aspect is identifying the roles and responsibilities. A cattle ranch comprises of many animals especially cattle, which require different people with different skills to handle these animals.  The ranch must be run like an organization, which means it must have clear objectives, missions, and visions. Mission guides employees on what they are supposed to achieve. The roles and responsibilities are based on the section that each employee works. Defining roles and responsibilities is important to ensure maximum output and better production. The second phase is the discipline building. The phase is characterised by sorting, setting, and cleaning. These results in lowering costs, improving productivity, and production high quality goods. A cattle ranch must applied this phase to ensure it uses the little resources available to increase production of quality goods. The third phase is the lean tools of quality, delivery, and cost improvement. The company implements all lean system tools like the kanban systems and the andon cords. The kanban is an inventory system that controls the supply chain. A good cattle ranch must have a kanban system that allows different farm managers to communicate. It reduces the waste and maximizes the value. The fourth phase is the continuous improvement and collaboration phase. The phase entails the organization spreading its lean systems to suppliers and expects the suppliers to follow the same direction. Engineers can develop their own mechanical systems, which they can use to build production. A cattle ranch can copy this system because it creates easier to build designs.

Implementing the lean system

Lean six sigma is a collaborative method that applies lean manufacturing/production and six sigma to improve the performance of the business. This is through eliminating all the sources of waste and reduction in variation. The eight kinds of waste; defects, waiting .overproduction, inventory, non-utilized talent, extra-processing, motion, and transportation are analyzed and made minimal to increase output. Two engineers introduced six Sigma, Bill Smith, and Mikel J Harry as they were working at Motorola in the year nineteen eighty-six. Jack Welch also made it his central strategy in his business, General Electric in nineteen ninety-five. This method sets on improving the output quality. This is accomplished by reducing the occurrence of the defects and the variability in the manufacturing or processing processes.

Six Sigma majors on a set of quality management methods that is majorly statistical and empirical. Thus, they are based on both experiments and data from observing figures. This strategy requires a pool of well-trained personnel to implement it fully thus reaping the full benefits. In most cases, this type of method follows a particular plan or sequence of events. It is also carried out to solve specific problems or rather for specific targets. Some may include reduction of pollution, reduction of costs and increment in profits. A successful sigma process is one in which almost zero percent of defects are incurred during the production of the particular business feature. Lean on the other hand is set on creating more value with less input. It is both a philosophy in management and a system in production. Lean majors on the principle of what exactly is the real value and what is the waste. This strategy centrally involves workers as they carry the power to create continuous improvements in business. The five main principles of this policy are; create flow, identify value, analyses the value stream and get rid of waste, establish pull and finally seek perfection through constant improvements. In general, these strategies minimize the amount of garbage at the same time maintain the quality of production. The value of the products remains uncompromised even though the amount of input has reduced (Colgan, 2013).

Just like any other business, cattle ranching which is very common in areas such as Texas is susceptible to losses. This loss may be incurred from wastes that occur in overproduction and transportation among other production processes. However, the lean six-sigma strategy can be employed to counter this loss by ensuring specific benefits. Some of the benefits that may accrue to a cattle ranch that has implemented the lean six sigma include; increased efficiency, high –quality output, a better customer service and finally a safer workplace among other benefits. One of the key reasons for establishing these collaborative strategies is to increase the efficiency on the different levels of production. When implementing this method on a cattle ranch, each process is analyzed to make sure that it reaches its maximum potential of productivity. All the weaknesses that may be encountered in the process are identified and efficiently eliminated. This defect may include the wrong type of human resources in the production process or insufficient funding. This kind of business requires enough funding to ride out the bad times in the market. This may be periods of decreased sales or unavailability of cattle feeds.

Ensuring the right workforce eliminates loopholes that may develop due to improper handling and maintenance of the cattle. The primary product of cattle ranching is the cattle themselves. They, therefore, need proper care from any harmful entities. This includes wild dogs, coyotes or other stray animals that may attack the animals. The shelters for the cattle should also offer sufficient protection. Proper analysis should be carried out for each ranch implementing the lean six-sigma strategy according to their context. This is because environments differ. Fully identifying the weakness and addressing them will ensure the smooth running of affairs in the ranch. It is easier to maximize profits this way, and thus the business is lucrative and efficient.

Improving the quality of the ranch’s output is another significant advantage once the lean six-sigma strategy is in place. This benefit is achieved by prioritizing specific areas of the whole process of ranching. This may include areas such as inventory control, quality control standards, production scheduling, and elimination of issues in quality in factually all methods of operation. This process will involve a strict and accurate analysis of the current existing standards in all these processes. The completion of this task will help identify the areas where quality is compromised after which the employees in those fields receive sufficient motivation and skill to tackle these problems. It is critical to note that employees should be engaged in this process as they have a crucial role in effecting improvements on the products. Therefore, they should be empowered with the appropriate practical skills to own the process of transitioning to better quality. This method does not necessarily involve a high investment in expensive equipment.

When properly managed, it can be as cheap as possible. However, it is tasking and requires long hours. Ranchers also need the appropriate knowledge on what type of cattle is doing well at a particular time in the year. The key to succeeding in in the ranch business is to ensure a low cost of production while providing quality at the same time. It is advisable to have large tracts of land where one can grow their pastures. In such conditions, one can control the quality and amount of field fed to the cattle and finally the variety of livestock. Therefore, it is rare for ranchers to find themselves in a situation whereby they have overstocked on the animals and cannot acquire feeds due to problems such as adverse weather conditions.

The above advantage goes hand in hand with increased profits. Research helps determine the best sales period. The ranchers can prepare sufficiently to stock highly as they await the peak periods. They are then able to buy at low prices and sell at high prices. Growing their own pasture also helps them get control of some external conditions such as a general shortage in their area. Such risks may lead to seasons of high profits and others of adverse losses. Higher profits may lead one to overstock but the conditions of the following year may be unfavorable leading to high losses. High profits lead to more work and a larger range of risk exposure. Therefore, one should have the ability to manage these risks appropriately so that the business is more stable.

Maintaining a low cost of production also comes in handy as it enables one to play safe. One can also come up with a feeding plan for the cattle in times such as winter. This will ensure continuity in the business as weather has a minimal effect on their ranching practices. Most people buy calves during winter while the majority employ a background feedlot .Nonetheless, having privately owned pastures saves huge amounts of capital. The amount saved s estimated to be around three or four times of that used in background food lots .Successful ranchers have also admitted to feeding minimal hay during this winter periods. However, more hay is required when the snow levels get too deep. They have explained that it is unnecessary to feed the cattle excessively during these periods, as they are not required to put on weight. The prices of feeds are also very high during this period. Cutting down on feeds, helps reduce the cost of production .Nevertheless; it is primary to ensure that the animals get enough cake and grass for them to stay healthy. This technique also applies to those who practice background feedlots. Another area of concern to ensure profits is the quality of cattle.

A rancher should analyze and research properly on the cattle market before settling down on a particular seller. The northern cattle are said to be one of the best breeds. They are heartier, stronger, and more efficient and have large amounts of quality beef on them. They are a great attraction towards markets in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska thus has a ready market. Black Crossbred and Black Angus are also said to converts feeds into pounds more efficiently than all the other breeds. They come in handy during periods such as winter when ranchers need to spend very minimally on the feeds. All cattle in general recover greatly during spring and summer once they feed on green grass. They are able to gain tons of weight. A rancher should have sufficient understanding of the above factors to reap full benefits (Waggener, 2015).

Improving the efficiency and increasing the quality of the products will help improve customer satisfaction. Some other elements of the lean six-sigma strategy are tailored to satisfy the customer needs. This includes reducing time to meet the customer requirements and accurate staff-hour reporting. These areas are optimized to ensure that employers achieve a high level of customer service. Price is also a critical issue while striving to ensure customer satisfaction. Ranchers are advised to be a little bit more conservative than trying to know when the market is at its top all the time. Once they make a guaranteed profit, ranchers should be satisfied by it on most occasions rather than try to make the last coin out of the market. This may pass as greediness, which is very unpleasant while striving to achieve a maximum customer satisfaction. Safety at the workplace is a more of an indirect advantage that applies to businesses that have indulged in the lean six-sigma strategy. However, this culture cultivates a culture of commitment and a sense of ownership of the ultimate goal among ranchers and their workforce. Employees can own whatever part it is they hold in the operation process. This gives everyone involved in all the methods of operation some sense of safety.

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In conclusion, the central area of concern while applying the lean six-sigma method is the amount of input compared to output and the accompanying changes of waste occurrences. Before a cattle ranch or any other business, in that case, embraces this methodology, they need to make a total commitment towards a culture of constant improvement and optimization of the workflow. This strategy may bring about a complete shift in the running of activities in the ranch. Ranchers must understand that this process is dynamic. They will have to review this strategy from time to time as new opportunities arise and new weaknesses develop. Lean six sigma is a continuous process that creates new means of operation, manages them, and improves them for the benefit of the ranch or any other business. This methodology requires maximum supervision and vigilance from the owner of the farm or any other management body in the cattle ranch. For this method to be successful, they are need to understand that this task needs to be done or executed to completion. It is a mindset that everyone who is involved in operations in the ranch should adopt (Harbour, 2012). It is a common strategy among various firms, agricultural and other sectors. Some are Toyota and Motorola as mentioned earlier who were the pioneers of this methods. This plan has also worked among dairy farmers. A logical process is trustworthy as it involves facts about the business in question. Cattle ranchers should not shy away but embrace it to better their trade.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Conor Colgan, G. A. (2013). Why try Lean? A Noorthumbrian Farm Case Study.
  2. Harbour, R. (2012). Setting the Stage for Lean Manufacturing Success.
  3. Waggener, R. (2015). Building a Lean, Mean Stocker Business.
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