Just-in-time – definition and benefits of just-in-time

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Definition of Just-in-time

Just-in-time (JIT) refers to everything happening just in time. As a concept, it is easy to understand; however, implementing it in practice is a different thing. According to Toyota (2016), Just-in-time means making only what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed. It is a philosophy of complete elimination of waste.

According to Beasley (n.d), Just-in-time originated in Japan. Toyota motor company started using this method in the 1970s. JIT was initially known as the ‘Toyota Production System’. Many people regard Taiichi Ohno of Toyota as the father of JIT.

JIT is about producing and delivering the necessary things at the right place in the right quantity. However, this gives a very limited sense to JIT. So, in a broad sense, JIT is an approach to accomplishing excellence in a company. It is an organisation wide philosophy and organisations should treat it accordingly, not simply as a set of procedures.

Waste elimination

According to Beasley (n.d) Ohno devised a new system of production based on the elimination of waste. In his system, organisations can eliminate waste by:

Just-in-time – items only move through the production system as and when they are needed.

Autonomation – enabling machines to be autonomous and able to automatically detect defects

Benefits of Just-in-time

Implementing JIT in work place has many benefits. It reduces inventory levels, increases productivity, reduces space requirements, and creates pressure for good vendor relationships. Organisations can also maintain high quality and gain flexibility through the use of JIT.

Traditional stock controlling may sometimes be very costly for many organisations. Therefore, just-in-time which is an alternative stock control method, can be very useful for them. With this method, businesses do not need to hold any stock; rather they will rely upon deliveries of raw materials to the factory floors when the time of production comes. This helps companies reduce production costs and improve competitiveness.

As organisations are not holding stock, the likelihood of stock perishing, or becoming out of date is limited. This also helps them reduce their inventory and production cost. Organiations can then use the savings in other areas e.g. marketing, PR, and HRM to increase visibility of the products and achieve competitive advantages.

Disadvantages of Just-in-time

There are a number of disadvantages of JIT. For example, JIT may sometimes cause disruption in the supply chain. If a supplier of raw materials fails to deliver supply on time regardless of what the causes are, it may lead to a shutdown of the entire production process in a company. Likewise, external factors such as a natural disaster could impact on the delivery of raw materials from the suppliers to the company potentially resulting in a complete halt in the production process.

The article publication date: 8th November 2016

Further reading/references

Beasley, J. (n.d.) Just-in-time (online), available from http://people.brunel.ac.uk/~mastjjb/jeb/jeb.html (Accessed 12 February, 2016)

Stevenson, W. (2009) Operations Management, 9th edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

Toyota (2016) Just-in-time: philosophy of complete elimination of waste, available from: http://www.toyota-global.com/company/vision_philosophy/toyota_production_system/just-in-time.html (Accessed 12 February 2016)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.