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Improving labour efficiencies in horticulture

A campaign has been launched in the UK to encourage the adoption of lean principles into horticultural businesses to help improve labour efficiencies in production.

The new AHDB knowledge exchange programme seeks to address rising labour costs and concerns about labour availability following Brexit.

As part of the first stage of the programme, a series of case studies is underway with lean consultants, MPL Ltd, visiting businesses to identify where there is scope to improve.

A broader survey will then be sent to growers over the summer to understand labour efficiency potential within a range of businesses to help paint a picture of the wider industry. Regional lean workshops are then planned for autumn 2017 and spring 2018 to share the results.

Debbie Wilson, knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, said: “Automation and robotics may offer longer-term solutions, but with increased pressures from rising labour costs due to the National Living Wage and concerns about availability of labour following the Brexit decision, many growers are looking for solutions to help with their labour costs now.”

Tom Hulme, from A C Hulme Ltd who is participating in the case study programme said: “Other than the weather, labour costs and availability are our biggest challenge but also our biggest opportunity.

“We signed up as we want to understand different ways to look at productivity and also benchmark ourselves against others in the industry. The visit confirmed that we are on the right track but need to stay focused on efficiencies.”

The LEAN programme is part of a series of projects AHDB is currently running to help improve labour efficiencies in horticulture.

AHDB Horticulture growers will receive the lean survey in summer 2017.


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