One of the bedrocks of Lean is the removal of waste from organizations. Waste can typically be categorized using tools such as the seven wastes. Of these one of the common elements found in many organizations is inventory. One method of reducing inventory in organizations is by implementing “just in time” or JIT methods.

The purpose of JIT is for organizations, aiming to minimize their inventory, to have material that is provided when required for use, minimizing any physical stock that is stored. JIT is not without its challenges, overproduction or procurement of excess material can conceal manufacturing issues or compensate for demand variability and these issues need to be resolved for Just in time inventory to be successful.

JIT is often associated with closer relationships with suppliers and commonly initiatives such as VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) and Kanban are often deployed simultaneously.

As with any initiative, JIT being no different, careful consideration is required prior to implementation with organizations requiring a close understanding of its demand, supply chain and likely issues that will need resolving in order to make just in time successful.

What are the Benefits of JIT / Just in time?

Material should equal requirement

Material that is procured or manufactured without an initial consumption requirement requires handling and storage which incurs cost, valuable floor space and resources (consider the heating, lighting, storage, security costs of most warehouses). Through JIT these requirements are minimized.

Material flow improvements

Given the typically smaller lot sizes associated with JIT, delays commonly associated with larger lot sizes are eradicated simplifying the material handling process.

Greater efficiency from the workforce

One of the benefits of JIT is that workers are no longer tied to large lot sizes or significant change over times – any free time can therefore be applied to different stages of the manufacturing process, enabling a more efficient and flexible work-force. In some cases staff can be re-deployed as a result of not requiring workers to produce items without an immediate use.

Improved supplier relationships

Clearer demand signals, reduced lot sizes and greater levels of communication (all a requirement of JIT) can support closer ties within the supply chain.

Production harmonized with requirement

Demand equals requirement – if there is no requirement items are not procured or manufactured saving time and capital outlay.

Summary

Whilst not without its problems, when deployed appropriately JIT can be a very efficient method of eradicating inventory waste – it can help an organizations competitiveness and improve the efficiency of its workforce and supply chain.

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