Dec 2023
Machinery solutions – with a twist!
Mike Cameron
Dec 2023
Machinery solutions – with a twist!

Written by:  Mike Cameron | Specialist Farm Business Consultant | 0429 390 144

Given the cost of machinery Planfarm have developed some interesting solutions on how to get the very best out of them with a twist….
How to love your machines and get the very best out of them.

  1. Identify the need and do extensive research into acquiring the best at the budget you can afford.
  2. Provide specific housing for the unique machine. Can’t put a large machine in a garden shed.
  3. Provide a very clear role and responsibility – we don’t expect a tractor to be able to harvest the crop.
  4. Have a clear repeatable period of checking in for diagnostic and servicing – pull up the records to show the areas where the machine ran a little hot under the load you were placing and see what you can do to rectify it.
  5. Look to spend a little to update the machine – maybe a tweak to the ECU.
  6. Develop systems of communication even if off site – JD link for example or similar where you know exactly how your machine is travelling. Clear metrics of real time performance is essential.
  7. Set time aside after a very busy period to looking into any slippage recorded by the machine – identify any example of trouble of turning all the effort into traction and respond.
  8. Have a list of technicians and support members to be able to respond if a breakdown occurs – we can’t control all things and regular maintenance is the key, but life happens.
  9. Sit down with your advisor and discuss whether too much load is on one machine – what happens if it breaks down. Is it better to share the load when a certain critical mass is achieved. While optimum efficiency is nice build in some buffer with some additional capacity.
  10. If the machine does have some issues don’t dispose of it straight away – take time to understand the problem. Dare I say maybe we didn’t provide the right oil, or schedule timely maintenance or consider the load we were placing on the machine.
  11. Give the machine a reward for effort, maybe send it away for special reconditioning. In the end it is an investment for the future of your business and your machine.
  12. Have some diversity. We don’t have to have the one colour of machine. The best result is finding the best machine for the role.
  13. Tell friends how pleased you are with the machines you have – could you have made it through seeding without it? Do you have capacity to look at other pursuits because of your amazing fleet?

Now reread the above but replace machine with a team member. I have a feeling most farmers can make brilliant Bosses, but unlike looking after machinery many don’t know how! Unfortunately team members can sometimes act a little like the GPS – they can stop working and decide to go off the run line. The exciting thing is that unlike machines a healthy and vibrant team can bring so much enjoyment to the process of farm business and open many doors to the elusive lifestyle that we all want. Healthy and sustainable businesses have fantastic team culture, but we all need help in the implementation.

Now I agree I am being rather simplistic and the challenges are very real that many are facing with cash flows being stretched, a tough season experienced in 2023, coupled with increasing demands from current team members that often feel like it exceeds your own income from the farm, along with going through one of the hardest periods over the last 3 years to find and retain good people.

At Planfarm we believe that if our core value is to care for the clients we serve then we need to try and step in the gap to help where we can. Part of this will be the roll out of a new program called Planfarm Elevate. It focusses on providing structural support for farm businesses and help in the process of implementing change to provide some farm freedom. We have developed this specifically with you the owner/grower in mind.

As the leader of Elevate I hope that the many mistakes and learnings that I had while developing my own team that peaked at up to 40 while operating Cherylton Farm (Kojonup) can help you implement the team culture and structural change you desire.

While many have experienced strong positive shifts in the balance sheet derived from appreciating land values and good management, the on farm load of compliance along with the full myriad of farm management tasks has created a burden that really is too much to bare thus it’s completely reasonable to say I need a ‘chop out’ here.

Consider having a chat as a family and if any of the above resonates give us a shout. We are all built for relationships – I hope you can enjoy those that are nearest and dearest to you over the Christmas break as we hit reset and look into 2024 and the opportunities that lay before us.

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