In inventory management, the Just-In-Time or JIT system reduces wastage, improves efficiency and productivity, and contributes to smoother production flows. A shorter production cycle can decrease financial costs, inventory costs and labour costs. Below, we summarise the key features of the JIT approach.
Smooth production flow
One of the key features of the JIT system is a uniform production process. From the arrival of materials from suppliers to the delivery of goods to customers, the JIT system aims to prevent fluctuating production rates, which can result in delays and excess work-in- process inventories.
The pull-method contributes to this smooth production process, and it is a key feature of the JIT system. Under the pull-method, goods are produced in each stage only as they are needed at the next stage. This system eliminates work-in-process inventory between production steps, thereby reducing waiting times and associated non-value-added costs.
The pull-method also prevents wastage due to the production of defective products, since the output at every stage of production is inspected before passing on to the next stage.
Reduction in storage and waiting time
Under the JIT system, materials are purchased and goods produced only as required, rather than to build up stocks for future use. This alleviates the need to make space for holding products and materials, and results in less time wasted waiting for large amounts of materials and products.
Relatedly, the JIT system encourages faster setups of production machinery. Producing small lots of product only as required demands a faster set up of machinery, resulting in more efficiency and reduced costs. The result is higher quality raw materials and finished products.
Maintenance of equipment
The JIT system requires strict adherence to routine maintenance schedules. Effective, preventive maintenance of equipment will allow the company to avoid costly down time from machine breakdowns.
Employee satisfaction and stronger relationships
The JIT system also encourages multi-skilled workers, flexible facilities and an atmosphere of teamwork. These things improve the production system to help the company maintain a competitive edge by seeking ways to improve its products, achieve more efficient operations, and eliminate non-value-added costs.
The JIT system also encourages stronger relationships between suppliers and producers. Under the JIT system, communication and information flow between the supplier and producer are open, supporting strong supply coordination. These relationships are enhanced by long-term contracts.
Under the JIT system, if materials are required, the supplier will receive an electronic message to deliver them. This improves efficiency and reduces time wastage. Automated purchasing also means that existing inventory levels and production levels are calculated automatically, making things easier and more efficient.
Under the JIT approach, suppliers are limited. This reduces the amount of time spent on vendor relations, and ensures that the firm is working with only reliable suppliers who can deliver high quality goods on time.
Long-term benefits of a JIT system
A long-term concentration on production growth and supply requirements, and synchronizing changes in raw materials specifications with suppliers, provide many long-term benefits to the business. The JIT system can produce long-term benefits like cost savings, lower production costs and better customer satisfaction.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.