What is JIT?

 JIT is just-in-time manufacturing. It is considered to be a pillar of Lean manufacturing and the Toyota Production System; as a production method, it focuses on initiating action based on real-time customer demand rather than forecasted demand. With JIT, production is scheduled per an actual customer order that triggers a sequence of events. For example, when a customer places an order for a product, a notification from the sales department might be sent to the production line to inform them to begin making the product. JIT is based on the stocking system of supermarkets, where items are only replaced on the shelves once customers have bought them; customer purchases trigger restocking and reordering actions.

When JIT was originally developed in the 20th century, it changed the way large-scale production operated. Before, facilities mainly utilized a traditional “just-in-case”, or push, system that based its production on demand forecasting and historical data. Push systems create products in anticipation of customer interest and make sure they have enough inventory on hand in case there’s a large amount of demand. While this can be successful, it often leads to wastes such as excess inventory, a large amount of work in progress, and other hidden problems.

Just-in-Time + Lean

JIT manufacturing reduces the amount of inventory as well as cost and waste. It can expose problems within the system as it helps a facility overall operate more efficiently. This type of production system relies heavily on communication between the different departments of a business; Kanban, a Lean communication method, is often used in conjunction with JIT. There are many types of Kanban systems, and they usually incorporate something like filled-out cards, automated emails, or lights—any type of signal that triggers action. When an order is placed, an email may be sent to production or a light may come on, letting workers know that it’s time to begin making a product. Together, Kanban and just-in-time manufacturing help facilities establish a more efficient production system that meets real-time customer demand and reduces excess inventory.


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