Just in Time : Achieving Excellence in Manufacturing

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A manufacturing company may not do most of its work in an office, but like any other company it can still benefit from more efficient office work. As for many other companies, there is an outside service available to help improve efficiency—in this case, a program called JIT (Just in Time). First developed by an employee of the Toyota Company, JIT aims to aggressively evaluate and improve the efficiency and functioning of a manufacturing company. The ultimate goal is to entirely overhaul the company so that everyone can work more efficiently and avoid loss of money and time.

"Just in Time" (JIT) is a management philosophy that helps reduce manufacturing costs. Ideally, JIT allows manufacturers to perfectly meet customer demands in terms of time, quality, and quantity. The method uses a series of signals to send a message to the production line to manufacture the next piece as it is needed and is based on planned elimination of all types of waste as well as continuous improvement in productivity.

By adopting this philosophy, manufacturers have been able to achieve great improvements in quality and efficiency and enjoy higher returns on investment.

History of JIT

JIT was developed and perfected in the 1970s in the Toyota manufacturing plants. Taiichi Ohno of Toyota, often referred to as the father of JIT, used the technique to eliminate risk to his business by building vehicles to order. The great motivation of Japanese workers to rebuild their nation's economy after the devastation of World War II, along with their terrific work ethic, made JIT a success and eventually led to its export to the West.

Main Features of JIT

The following are the key features of JIT, which revolves around the total involvement of people, plants, and systems in the manufacturing process:
  • Continuous improvement
  • Attacking fundamental problems
  • Devising systems to identify problems
  • Striving for simplicity
  • A product-oriented layout
  • Quality control at source
  • Poka-yoke (foolproof tools, methods, etc., prevent mistakes)
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Total production
  • Eliminating waste
    • from overproduction
    • of waiting time
    • of transportation
    • of processing
    • of inventory
    • of motion
    • from product defects
  • Good housekeeping
  • Setup-time reduction
  • Multi-process handling
  • Leveled/mixed production
  • Kanbans (simple tools to pull products and components through the process)
  • Jidoka (providing machines with the autonomous capability to use judgment)
  • Andon (trouble lights to signal problems to initiate corrective action)

Targets of JIT

The targets of JIT can vary depending on the type of company, the product, the process, and the customers. Nonetheless, most companies adopt JIT to achieve continuous competitiveness, customer focus, balanced quality-cost relationships, zero-defect production, the development of relationships with suppliers, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Limitations of JIT

Despite the fact that it has brought phenomenal improvement to the manufacturing process, JIT has some limitations. The primary limitation of the philosophy is its dependence on historical demands. Variations in demand can severely affect the process. Secondly, industries used to storing huge inventories for backup during rough times don't find the JIT system attractive. The shorter cycle time of JIT also adds to the stress of the workers. Moreover, JIT is not useful to low-volume manufacturers.

All in all, JIT is a no ordinary technique that marginally increases quality or quantity; it has proven itself as a philosophy for achieving excellence in manufacturing.
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What is Just-in-Time Manufacturing?
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 management philosophy  benefits  manufacturing companies  World War II  projects  Japanese  continuous improvement  customers

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