By applying Lean principles at the potting line, Robinson and his team increased production up to 50 percent.
Matt McClellan; Chris Robinson

Nursery Management’s inaugural Cost Savings Virtual Conference was designed to help you improve margins by presenting creative ideas, efficient practices and innovative products from fellow growers and green-industry experts.

Our editor Kelli Rodda began the conference with her opening remarks.

The first presentation was given by Chris Robinson, general manager at Robinson Nursery in Amity, Ore. On any given day, up to 20 employees stake trees at Robinson Nursery, and each one has a slightly different technique. Chris Robinson realized the variability had a negative impact on productivity and set a goal of developing a standardized process. Chris started focusing on process improvements six years ago. A second-generation nurseryman, he learned about Lean through the Oregon Association of Nurseries and believed the disciplined structure for eliminating waste could help him make his mark on the 600-acre nursery. In Chris’ presentation, he explained how the nursery uses Lean to increase efficiencies and save costs throughout the production process.

Next, Brian Decker, president of Decker’s Nursery in Groveport, Ohio, discussed his experience working with pot forks. Brian and his team have created several implements and processes to make production more efficient. Brian’s presentation covered the implementation of all facets of using pot forks to handle large quantities of container plants in the nursery. Some of the points covered include: Configuration of the fork unit; pot design requirements; fork lift requirements; nursery design requirements; labor/costs savings; and more.

Decker’s Nursery moves containers around the nursery using trikes equipped with forks.

The third presentation was given by Brian Groves, a professional engineer at Panoramic Farm. Panoramic Farm has made significant changes and capital investments to secure its future. The nursery invested heavily in automation equipment, including a soil mix system, potting line, printing barcodes onto pots, and using forklifts to move plants. These changes have put the emphasis on the importance of material flow/process flow. For instance: the nursery experiences consistency of potting with its potting line – the machine sets the tempo and each person has a dedicated job, which equals consistent results.

The virtual conference wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, Bailey and Bayer. Both took the opportunity to share how their companies help growers save costs in their own businesses. Alec Charais of Bailey explained how using JumpStarts potted liners can help growers save costs. And Aaron Palmateer discussed how selecting the right plant protection products can help improve cost savings at nursery operations.

To view the virtual conference presentations in their entirety, go to http://bit.ly/CSVC2019.