Lean in a crisis – Supporting fence building in bushfire affected communities.

February 23, 2020


Fences are vital to farmers’ livelihoods, so repairing these quickly after a bushfire or natural disaster is crucial.

In the wake of this season’s devastating bushfires, LEA coach Robert Bruce volunteered his time and improvement expertise to support Blaze Aid – a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.

Robert was part of a team of seven volunteers, including his son and mates. The group set up camp at a property in Jingellic, in the high country near the Victorian and New South Wales border. They were tasked with helping a local merino farmer rebuild part of the 20kms of fencing he had lost in the destructive bushfires in early January.

In addition to the fencing lost, the farmer had lost 500 sheep, 50 cattle and the landscape of their property had been decimated. The spirit of hope the volunteers brought to supporting his rebuild efforts was priceless, but it was also important work. With a week of fencing ahead of them, getting as many metres built as possible was the main aim.

So Robert and the team set to work. They segmented the work, splitting into groups with one removing the old fencing and another building the new. The problem was that removing the old posts was time consuming, using a hydraulic lifter and tractor to yank the solid timber out of the ground. So they tried to improve the process and identified that using the digger to knock the posts over was not only far quicker, but also safer. They were finished by 11am on the second day and could get back to helping the others build.

By standardising, improving and being innovative, the team were able to swiftly meet their goals for the week and at the same time have a fantastic experience out in nature, helping out where it was needed most.

Truly, this is where the heart of Lean Thinking lies and where more of LEA’s efforts will concentrate as we work to make things better for organisations, staff, customers and the community.

Click here to find out more about Blaze Aid and how you can support their disaster recovery initiatives.

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