JIT production, also known as JIT manufacturing, is a management philosophy for reducing times within production systems. In simpler words, it’s about producing what the customer wants, when they want it, where they want it and at the quantity they want. As a result, the JIT method ensures increased efficiency through the minimization of waste.
Where it all started
JIT originates by Taiichi Ohno of Toyota. The concept was developed just after World War II at the time when businesses did not have the privilege to develop more quantities than needed since the resources were scarce. After 15 years of trial and error, Toyota had progressed this concept to near perfect and they have subsequently introduced the JIT concept into the Western world by the end of 1970s.
JIT production has brought many benefits to the organizations that have embraced its philosophy. Some of the main benefits yielded are:
- Reduction in costs of inventory and reduced storage space requirements.
- Enhanced product quality and increased customer satisfaction.
- Increased productivity and minimization of waiting times.
- Employee empowerment.
- Reduced lead times, shorter setup time and increased machine utilization.
- Automated purchasing.
- Increased company revenue.
Although JIT is capable of brining many benefits to the firm, it is equally important to consider the opposite site of the coin. A major drawback of JIT production is that is has no buffer built into the system and therefore one disruption in the supply chain can affect the whole supply chain. For instance, a delay in the delivery of the raw materials can delay the delivery of finished goods
Prerequisites for the implementation of JIT production
In order to avoid any delays such as the scenario mentioned above, it is important that the organization takes precautionary steps to plan ahead and evade any disruptions. Some precautionary measures to be taken are:
- Choose reliable suppliers that will not delay the delivery of materials.
- Install quick machine assemblies.
- Eliminate machine breakdowns as one breakdown will affect the whole production lien
- Ensure that employees are properly trained and are not resistant to change.
- Prepare a response plan in case of something going wrong.
- Ensure that the team is collaborating and cooperating efficiently.
- Forecast future demand accurately using statistical analysis tools and forecasting methods.
- Ensure support and commitment throughout the organization, especially from the top management.
How does JIT achieve process efficiency?
Just-in-time production improves the manufacturing process by producing only what is needed. As a result it preserves the minimum amount of raw materials required and strives to minimize waiting times in the production process. In order to achieve this, the JIT employs several procedures and practices such as frequent deliveries of small quantities, compression of the production area, on-site inspection, use of low minimum order quantities, use of production stops and immediate shipment of goods to the clients. These only consist of only a few examples on how JIT achieves its goal. To summarize, JIT production is a continuous improvement process that places increasing emphasis on prevention and not correction, while focusing on quality.