Just-In-Time (JIT) is much more than a buzzword used by advocates of Lean manufacturing. It’s a management philosophy, inventory control method, production approach and cost-saving measure.
Essentially, Just-In-Time production reduces waste by optimising resource allocation.
But there’s a lot to it, so let’s unpack the potential of JIT.
What is Just-In-Time manufacturing?
Just-In-Time is a managerial and operational approach that produces what the customer wants, when they want it, without order delays or excess costs.
Rather than producing what you think the customer wants, Just-In-Time means delivering what they demand.
It might seem daunting to think about JIT as an end-to-end manufacturing method.
But broken down to a step-by-step supply chain, in which each link only produces what the subsequent link demands, JIT becomes easier to digest.
Where did it start?
Credit for JIT manufacturing canonically goes to Toyota. After WWII, the car manufacturer didn’t have space or supplies to build a backlog of products.
The story goes that Toyota execs on a junket to the USA saw a supermarket only replenishing the items customers actually purchased. The shelves were never empty, nor was the warehouse overstocked with unwanted items.
It took 15 years, but eventually, Toyota was producing in the same way, reducing their costs and optimising time to market. They treated each link in the production process as the “supermarket”, only replenishing what was being used.
The pros and cons of Just-In-Time manufacturing
Unlike traditional manufacturing, Just-In-Time shifts focus from production at scale to Lean manufacturing methodologies. That can have benefits and drawbacks for Australian manufacturers.
Pros and cons of Just-In-Time manufacturing
Lower inventory costs
Usually requires retraining staff
Deliver and get paid faster
Australia’s isolation makes JIT ordering risky
Less storage space required
Business system overhaul
Reduces handling and logistics costs
Less robust during seasonal demand cycles
Simpler production planning
Psychological and organisational resistance
Decreasing product defects
Streamlined production processes
Flexibility to respond to customer demand
Clearly, JIT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Successful implementation usually means turning the business’ approach to manufacturing on its head – which takes time and resources.
However, with an end-to-end ERP like Jobman, manufacturers can confidently implement JIT and other Lean processes in stages. They rely on data-driven insight and process automation to minimise disruption.
How to implement JIT production
Just-In-Time is both a philosophy and practice. That means implementation happens on every level of your organisation.
Eliminate extra stock to reduce waste and storage costs.
Ensure production staff are trained, informed and empowered. Plus, your machinery needs to be reliable, with support from business management systems like an ERP.
Schedule production based on pull signals; that means not producing until a customer (or downstream process) sends a demand signal.
Relying on data, implementing Agile processes, and targeting long-term growth through iterative improvements can help implement JIT manufacturing.
By building robust long-term partnerships, you can trust suppliers to send what you need when you need it.
Just to summarise…
Just-In-Time production relies on robust business systems, clearly defined production processes and an empowered workforce.
If you don’t have all those in place, get in touch with the Jobman team to find out how a manufacturing ERP can help simplify production and find all the answers.