imageContinuing along with my occasional discussion of Lean Six Sigma topics which apply well to farming, here is the next: the Pugh Matrix (or decision matrix method). We are often faced with making a decision between multiple choices which have complex variables. In engineering and manufacturing firms, obvious examples are deciding between two major design path choices, or selecting a vendor who will supply components long-term or perform some sub-contracted duty.

These are decisions where there are many pros and cons between all the choices, and it can be overwhelming trying to choose which is the best solution. The worry is that if we just default to our “common sense,” we may end up being biased and unable to make a truly objective choice. We may unconsciously place more importance on a certain consideration than other critical factors; and in the end, not select the best solution. With vendor selection, it can be easy to be swayed by one you know well and like; or by a good salesman. With design choices, the most assertive person in the room can sometimes sway the group in one direction. With farming, especially animal selection, the potential for bias towards our favorite animal, or best-looking animal, is huge.

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ATVTrailerI bought a cool, new ATV trailer. We’d been wanting one for a variety of uses. The ATV is so convenient for doing farm chores, it’s fast, maneuverable, never gets stuck, and has nice suspension. All things that a tractor is not quite as good at. Though the ATV already has a front and rear rack for carrying things, we wanted it to be able to carry even more things.

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breatherValve2 We don’t put that many hours on our tractor, but it seems like it’s in need of continual repair, since it takes a lot of abuse. This thing broke off recently, it’s called a breather valve. It’s part of the combined transmission and hydraulic fluid system, which contains over eight gallons of oil. (I recently had to change that oil, and it was a pain. Despite my best efforts to be tidy, I spilled oil all over.) This little valve allows the hydraulic system to “breathe” without taking in airborne particles.

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NailGunThis house is the second historic home where I’ve installed salvaged vintage fir flooring. The first time I did it, and also when I first started working on the upstairs for this house, I borrowed a pneumatic flooring nail gun from my friend Giang. And oh my goodness, that nail gun was like butter. Giang is one of those friends who’s great to know because when he buys a product, he does tons of research. So if I decide to buy the same product, I’ll just choose the brand Giang did, knowing I can trust his choice! 🙂

Since we have quite a bit of flooring left to do, and may also employ a flooring nail gun in the barn loft, we decided to buy our very own gun. It seems justified over renting or continuing to borrow Giang’s gun, knowing that we can re-sell it when we’re done and recover a portion of our investment.

So, we got it: the PortaNails Inc. Hammerhead II.

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