Introducing lean production process model for the horse business sector in Sweden
Abstract: Methods of improving business operation and competiveness are essentially unknown and rarely described in the horse sector. However, many horse businesses struggle because of e.g. high costs, accident risks, difficulty of attracting skilled personnel on long term, traditional ways of management impeding a progressive development in the everyday operation and business model. There is a need to make the operations cost effective and safer. By streamlining everyday processes, introducing mechanisation and the lean production process model, benefits in economics and working conditions can be obtained. The objectives of the study were: a) Investigate whether lean production is applicable to the horse business sector, b) Examine which work processes that can be streamlined and c) Examine the interest in work efficiency. A total of six horse businesses were studied; three riding schools and three racehorse trainers respectively. The operations were studied by the use of semi structured interviews, observations and the lean production tool value stream mapping exercise. These were used to study the tasks mucking out, sweeping aisles, preparation of feed and walking of horses to and from paddocks. The results indicate that the core value of the businesses, contact with customers, horse owners and business development could be increased and given better focus with more work time efficient routines and housing conditions. Streamlining the processes mucking out, distributing feed and sweeping aisles and optimise the logistics of horses, feed and manure will save time. However, interest in methods to improve work efficiency was low and there is a sceptic attitude concerning new ideas and technology. Businesses working with lean production are suggested to benefit by having less time spent on non-horse activities, more on staff development, the staff staying longer in the occupation, having fewer accidents and fewer days off. The value stream mapping exercise needs interested and enthusiastic participants to be successful. Changes must be considered as an opportunity, not a threat in order to improve businesses and their profitability.
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