RECAP: LLM at Pleasant View Gardens
Lean Leaders Meeting at Pleasant View Gardens (March 11th, 2020)
The New England Lean Consortium held its March Lean Leaders meeting and its first meeting at Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, NH on March 11th. The meeting attracted seventeen people including one new member. In addition, five members of the Senior Management Team of Pleasant View Gardens also attended.
Pleasant View Gardens of Loudon, NH, is a business that provides starter and finished, saleable plants and flowers to nurseries and large chains, including Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Wal-Mart. Their brand names are Proven Winners®, and Proven Selections®.
Today Pleasant View has two facilities covering nearly thirty acres, including fourteen acres under cover and fourteen acres of outdoor production in Loudon. They employ more than 120 full-time people and grow to more than 250 people in the busy season. At peak, they produce over 2.5 million plants per day. The Loudon facility has thirteen 6 acres under roof.
The meeting started with a welcome and introductions of the attendees, followed by a Lean Consortium Update by Joe Rizzo. Mike Goyette, Operations Manager, gave the company presentation. Mike gave us a treatise on plant growing and how Pleasant View Gardens has implemented Lean to help them grow the business and become more productive and more profitable. 50% of their business is in young plants. 90% of the production is by Vegetative production and 8% by seed. 2% is through tissue culture. This is a complex business as there are over nine hundred varieties across fourteen product lines.
The process starts with a cutting, which is inserted in a section of a tray. The completed tray is placed on a rack. When the rack is full, the rack is moved to one of the greenhouses. Using light, water and nutrients, the plant stays in the greenhouse until the root system is fully developed. There are several categories of sizes and the plants are nurtured to grow to a designated size. The markets for these products are large wholesale growers across the country.
The other 50% of the business is in finished plants, with 90% of the volume in annuals, 5% of the volume in Vegetables and Herbs and 5% of the volume in Perennials and Shrubs. The markets for these products are growers and garden centers across New England.
Lean at a plant and flower producing company is not an intuitively obvious match. However, it proves the point that Lean is useful as a management tool, almost everywhere. If you go by the definition that Lean is “the relentless pursuit and elimination of waste”, then Lean is useful everywhere, as there is waste everywhere. Pleasant View Gardens started their Lean journey about eight years ago. They engaged the New Hampshire MEP to provide the initial training. One of our members, Jane Wilson of the Mass MEP, was the project leader for Pleasant View Gardens. One of the first Lean principles adapted at Pleasant View Gardens was 5S and Visualization, primarily, color coding, which is used extensively throughout the facility. A color coded flag system is used to indicate tasks. Based on the color, there is a clear expectation as to what to do next. This allows for quantifiable work and efficient picking of the product.
(Angie Amour, Quality and Continuous Improvement, explains the color coded flag system.)
Barcode labels are also used for identifiers and track the source of the cutting, including the supplier, country and lot.
Lean is also used at cutting and fixing where flow racks are used to present the trays to the workers and also to take away the finished trays to a point where they are loaded on a rack.
One of the more impressive applications of Lean is at the sticking and trimming line. After the trays pass through a water tunnel where the planting media is thoroughly wetted, they proceed down a conveyor where there are four teams of three people. Each team works on a tray to stick the cuttings in a section of the tray. The line is self balancing as when one worker is finished with her task she pulls the tray from the person who is downstream from her, which makes the whole line a Pull System.
Lean is also used in a customized Visual Shipping System.
Lean is also used in their Integrated Pest Management System, where there is a color code to indicate the action level and frequency of the spray to control unwanted pests.
Some other photos taken during the plant tour:
(potted plants and hanging plants in one of the green houses)
(extensive use of visuals in the Production area)
(Scott, Production, explains the visual system for tools and supplies)
(Noah Derohanian, grower, is explaning t the groups of attendees what is happening in the green house)
(Mike Goyette, Operations Manager, is giving an explanation, on the labeling system for the trays.)
(Toni DeVone, QCIC Supervisor, is demonstrating the labeling system and the corresponding plants. Note the tablet that Toni has is used to access the various data bases)
After the plant tour, there was a very lively Plus/Delta feedback session, a sign of a very successful Lean Leaders Meeting. There were many Pluses as there were many examples of Lean and best practices to see and like. There were also many improving ideas for the management to consider. In addition to the group conversation with pluses and deltas captured on Post-it chart paper, each attendee filled out a card with space available for three pluses and three deltas, which were given to the Pleasant View Gardens team.