Real Solutions - How we've become more efficient

We asked four nurseries to name one thing they have done that has been particularly effective in helping them to build a leaner operating environment.


"The nursery has learned to work smarter, rather than harder, reinforcing the emphasis on getting things right first time. Extending our in-house training modules across the tree and container production teams, we have closely reviewed our methods and practices, streamlining our production activity and involving all staff members in the process.

"This has helped us identify opportunities for improvement and strengths we can build on. Staff can progress from nurseryman to senior craftsman, covering all elements of hardy nursery stock production, quality control and dispatch."

Lynn Hunter, Coles Nurseries


"We have built facilities that enable us to bulk-lift onto Container Centralen trolleys for supply to despatch and to pot and put-down using motorised conveyors. It is nothing clever, just a central concrete road with 25m trolley paths.

"The facilities help, but the real improvements have been lots of small changes that our despatch and nursery teams have identified through lean exercises to take wasted time and handling out of our operations.

"We made some great gains in 2010 and are seeing further improvements in 2011."

Geoff Caesar, Bransford Webbs Plant Company


"The most meaningful single action a business can take will address one of its larger costs. Hitting myriad smaller costs amounts to something significant too, but that requires cultural change.

"For Boningale, changing the way we buy in haulage worked in both these areas. It had real impact on a large cost and helped signal a change in culture, announcing internally as well as externally that the value delivered by all supplier relationships needs to be questioned."

Tim Edwards, Boningale Nurseries


"We started a large 'lean' project where we looked at how an order from a customer went through our systems. We struggled to bring the project to a logical conclusion because it was such a big subject.

"When we looked at it again we realised that 80 per cent of the potential saving would come from 20 per cent of the project. It taught us that it is much better to break these lean projects down into bite-size chunks.

"In reality now, lean is not something we think about - it is just happening as a matter of course through the business."

Andrew Richardson, Johnsons of Whixley.

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