JIT or Just-in-Time is focused on rapid throughput as well as reducing inventory to provide improvements on operations. JIT provides “lean operations” that supply or receive only the materials needed, only at the time they are needed (Heizer & Render, 2009).
The techniques involved in JIT are outlined by Heizer & Render (2009) and can be outlined as follows:
1) Suppliers – JIT involves reducing the number of vendors and focuses on good relationships between suppliers. Focused on quality products and making sure that goods are delivered when needed.
2) Layout – JIT focuses on maximising usage of space. By grouping similar products together you can ensure a larger amount of production gets done in a smaller space (aided by machinery capable of doing tasks for more than one product). JIT also focuses on reducing the distance required for transportation of products/materials therefore the requirement for storage is also reduced (also due to the fact that JIT aims to reduce inventories to only what is required).
3) Inventories – As mentioned above, JIT aims to reduce the amount of inventories on hand (ideally eradicating inventory all together except for what is needed to fulfil the current demand). This includes producing in smaller lot sizes thus allowing production cycles to be shorter.
4) Scheduling – JIT techniques make sure that the schedules are communicated across all suppliers and focuses on performing tasks exactly to their required scheduling time. Using the “kanban” technique is also a feature of JIT, this is where inventories are moved through the process on a pull basis (in other words, only when they are needed by the next phase/step, will they be “pullded” to the next step).
5) Preventative Maintenance – by maintaining systems and checking on systems on a daily basis, future problems are caught before they get to the point where they become serious.
6) Quality Production – By making quality a top priority, JIT aims to make sure all suppliers, processes and personnel are of the highest quality therefore eliminating the chances of quality control issues.
7) Employee Empowerment – By empowering employees to do multiple functions / “jobs” within the business, this allows for fewer employees as well as more flexible employees being able to perform multiple tasks.
8) Commitment – All aspects of the organisation must be committed to the JIT process. Management, employees and suppliers should all be supported and committed to their functions within the process.
The diagram by Heizer and Render (2009, p.539) shows that by following these guidelines for JIT, assets are freed up due to the rapid movement, waste is decreased because of the high quality and due to the reduced costs involved in the whole process the savings can be passed on to the consumer. This, of course, results in a competitive advantage due to higher quality being achieved at lower costs and at faster times.
Heizer, J. & Render, B. (2009) Operations Management. Ninth Edition. Prentice Hall: New Jersey.