Could our Strategic SmartHort Centres improve your labour productivity?

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Neil Fedden, from Fedden-USP will be leading our three new Strategic SmartHort Centres. Here he sets out how both the host businesses and those who attend could expect to see labour productivity improvements of 25-40%.

We have created a programme to address the need for productivity improvements within horticulture in order to reduce the impacts of labour shortages and rising input costs.

Our programme comprises a series of events at three host sites where participants will receive training and undertake practical activity. The key purpose will be to drive business improvement and raise awareness across the sector of different practical management and business improvement techniques.


All the workshops will be based on LEAN, which has its origins in the Japanese automotive sector. It will have a very practical focus, which not only covers the theory of LEAN but also its practical implementation in order drive business benefit. It is not unusual for business to see productivity improvements ranging from 25 – 40% in areas such as lifting, dispatch, picking, packing or propagation. In times of such concern over labour availability and quality, such improvements could prove to be vital.

The three host sites will become practical case studies for demonstrating how LEAN tools and techniques can be used on a daily basis to drive improvements.  Each host site will have four days of workshops spread over a 12 month period, where they will be encouraged to have an open and honest discussion around business change.

The workshops

We will take a group of business leaders from a variety of horticultural companies to participate in these workshops so that they can see for themselves the benefits delivered and share with their peers as they implement improvements.

The focus will be on what is the best way to make significant and sustainable changes. Each of the participants and the host site will be supported in developing action plans for implementation of LEAN in their own business during the 12 month period.

During the workshops the following topics will be covered:

  • Process mapping and waste identification
  • Practical problem solving using a technique called Plan Do Check Act
  • How to encourage Continuous Improvement across the whole organization
  • Visual Management Boards and metrics to provide a way to check the improvements have worked

On the final day each company, including the host site, will feedback what improvements they have made, along with the benefits they have generated. This will leverage the lessons learnt for the attendees allowing them to learn from each other’s practical examples.

Future support

In addition to the programme, participants will also be given the opportunity to attend additional Apprenticeship Levy funded training on LEAN/Business Improvement and gain a level 2 national recognized qualification (non-levy companies will need to pay £350/attendee). This consists of a further six days of training and 12 days of on-site implementation support.

We were overwhelmed by the applications to host the centres, and we’ll be announcing the successful businesses shortly and we will then announce the first event dates. Visit for regular updates.