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ARTICLES >> Business Articles

Innovation a way of life

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 02 2012

By Liz Guerin
If a nagging idea of how to do things better has kept you up at night, or if you’ve woken at 2am with a brilliant solution to a problem, then you are not alone.

If a nagging idea of how to do things better has kept you up at night, or if you’ve woken at 2am with a brilliant solution to a problem, then you are not alone.

For the Lindner family of Morgan, SA, innovation is vital to their business. From their many small “knick-knack” innovations such as wire racks, grid gates and lift-up fences, to larger projects concerning stock watering systems, innovations have not only increased efficiency and safety around the property, but also saved them both time and money.

“We feel that if we don’t look at things differently, then we are not going forward and we run the risk of stagnating” said David. “And if you’re stagnant, you are probably going backwards.”

For the Lindner family, innovation is a way of increasing efficiencies and making life easier. When they go to field days or on any of their travels, they are always on the lookout for new or adaptable ideas or how things are made, and it stays in the back of their minds until they can adapt it to their benefit.

“With a lot of our knick knack innovations (featured in the Australian Pastoral Property Innovation Manual), we used materials we already had on hand to improve operations” said David. “We’ve organised things to create efficiencies which, in combination with our management style, has meant we can do with less labour increasing the business bottom line.”

David says that the innovation that has had the biggest impact on their business has been their semi-system. This involves a prime mover with five different purpose driven trailers.

“Dad used to be frustrated with having one flattop truck that had to be unloaded before starting a new job. He always had the vision that if he could ever afford it, he would have a series of trailers for different jobs that you could simply unhook and hook up to the appropriate one” said David.

David’s father, John, bought his first prime mover and trailer in 1977 at a time when owning an on-farm semi was uncommon. Since then, the Lindner’s have built up to include a flat topped trailer used for carting wool and general freight, a stock crate, a low loader to cart plant and equipment around the place, a tanker used in drought, for problems with bores or pipes or for fire, and a tipper. These five trailers and their respective equipment service most of the needs around the property.”

David says that whilst the truck doesn’t do a lot of miles on the road – it does many hours, and enables them to respond to issues immediately.

“There are not many weeks when it doesn’t get used, and in the early days before my brother and I came home to the farm, it allowed dad to do most of the work on his own” said David.

Their innovative semi-system has also meant that they are self sufficient in terms of freight which results in cost savings, and the ability to do things when they want or need to (rather than when a carrier is available). This gives them the ability to make quick decisions, take advantage of available markets and can assist in better presentation of stock at market.

The Lindner’s also use the system with the stock crate at shearing time which enables them to truck shorn sheep back to their paddock on the day they are shorn. This takes pressure off the holding paddocks.

“Our property is 53,000 hectares, and approximately 50 kilometres from one side to the other” said David. “Using the semi system we can get them back in their paddock that night, and because they are not walking, we are not putting additional stress on the ewes which are sometimes only three weeks off lambing, and we don’t need 2 or 3 extra workman to do it.”

David says that as a family business tackling obstacles and overcoming them is part and parcel of the innovation process, and sometimes it is about recognising and using individual talents to best advantage.

“We are practical, hands-on people – and that makes a difference in the way we think about things” said David.

Following a succession of poor seasons, David says that the business is currently in a consolidation phase.

“For now, we will keep doing what we are doing – and improving what we are doing by incorporating technology that will assist” David said. “I think efficiency creates money and if you are really efficient without down time then you can feel you have done the best you could.”

Last changed: Feb 06 2012

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