ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Just In Time - JIT - Manufacturing

Updated on September 20, 2016

What is Just In Time?

Just in Time Manufacturing (JIT) is one of the main principles of lean manufacturing, it is the idea of producing exactly what the customer wants, in the quantities they want, where they want it, when the customer wants it without it being delayed or held up in inventory.

Just In Time (JIT) has been developed from the principles used firstly within Ford’s initial production lines where they tried to use flow. Toyota have then refined this flow principle as they realized that the biggest wastes in manufacturing are overproduction and inventory, making what the customer wants too late or too early and producing in quantities that the customer does not need. In post war Japan to use any of the scarce resources for anything other than what you needed today was a very risky move! The History of Lean Manufacturing will give you some insight as to how these principles have developed.

Just in Time Example

JIT Removes Waste in Your Processes

Inventory that is created by overproduction is part of the Seven Wastes as defined within Lean manufacturing. One of the major aims of implementing lean manufacturing is to reduce waste, although this should be done with an eye to creating flow within the organization; flow that allows product to be manufactured at the pull of the customer; JIT.

Inventory is probably the biggest waste of Lean Manufacturing, the inventory in your system does more than just tie up your hard earned cash, it hides all the other problems that you have like the level of water in a river hides all of the rocks below.

One of the Main Pillars of Lean

JIT is one of the supporting Pillars of any lean Implementation
JIT is one of the supporting Pillars of any lean Implementation | Source

JIT and the Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is what lean manufacturing is based on and JIT is one of the main pillars of TPS.

Along with Jidoka (Built in Quality) and respect for people; JIT forms Lean manufacturing. Built on a stable foundation of repeatable and predictable processes these pillars help you achieve customer satisfaction and thus business success.

The Origins of JIT

Toyota got the idea for JIT from of all places a supermarket when they visited America. They observed that a supermarket would only have to restock shelves with what the customers were actually taking. They did not keep ordering the same quantities each week and have some shelves overflowing and others empty. Each shelf had a fixed quantity of products from which the customers would select and this would then be replenished at the end of each day.

Many JIT and Kanban systems are very much based around the supermarket principle; the customer is supplied from a finished goods supermarket and the factory then works to restock that supermarket. Care is taken to maintain the stock levels within the supermarket to the minimum levels.

Together with Jidoka and Respect for people JIT is one of the main pillars of Lean and the TPS without which Lean would fail.

Reducing the order to payment timeline

JIT gets you paid quicker
JIT gets you paid quicker | Source

The Order to Cash Timeline

One of the biggest problems that many businesses face is cash flow. If they have to wait for their customers to pay, they then do not have cash to pay for their suppliers to build more products. Many companies have to spend a huge amount of their time balancing their cash flow and their production because of this.

Implementing JIT does not just reduce your lead times it also reduces the time that is taken from receiving an order to you actually getting the cash in your hands. This is vital if you want to reinvest that cash back into your business to satisfy more customers.

Traditional Manufacturing

Traditional manufacturing drives the creation of Inventory through the waste of Overproduction, we run large batches of material on our machines before the customer wants it or in quantities in excess of what the customer wants. Why, because we have always done it this way is one simple answer, typically the main reason is due to the setup time of the machine. To ensure that we get the best efficiency out of the machine we try to run an economical batch size to ensure that we get the most out of this resource.

We also produce "Just in Case", we guess (forecast) what the customer will want rather than basing our production on what they actually order.

Improvements in Production Planning

These large batches also cause problems with planning, different batches of materials have to be coordinated to be produced at around the same times, this causes problems at things get out of synchronization and we end up with delays with large amounts of work in progress sat there waiting for other components to be processed.

We also plan to have large amounts of inventory, we plan delays between processes to allow a “cushion” or “safety” stock to build just in case there are problems between these processes. This allows each process to have other work to process should there be problems with quality, delivery, breakdowns or any other problem, the planners feel more secure that the processes will not be stopped.

One of the main aims of lean manufacturing is to remove waste, especially the waste of inventory, this is the main waste that is tackled when implementing Just in Time (JIT) as one of the principles of lean manufacturing.

Inventory and Overproduction

JUst in Time (JIT) Manufacturing reduces Inventory
JUst in Time (JIT) Manufacturing reduces Inventory | Source

Inventory reduction

The most obvious problem with inventory is the need for space, large amounts of inventory requires large amounts of space to store it, either on the shop floor as work in progress, or within the stores as finished goods or raw materials. The physical space and the containers are all a cost to our business. Just in Time (JIT) looks to free up this space by eliminating this excessive inventory.

Inventory requires to be moved around, the added cost of people and equipment to do this moving is incurred as well as the opportunity for damage.

The most direct impact that inventory has on our customers is to do with our lead times, these large batches and planning delays tend to ensure that our lead times are measured in weeks rather than days. Producing a value stream map of your business can demonstrate the effect of inventory on your lead times and show the level of improvement that you could gain through implementing Just in time (JIT).

Inventory hides each and every problem within the company, the safety cushion that the inventory provides is like the level of the sea, it hides all of the problem rocks submerged beneath the surface. Implementing Just in Time (JIT) as part of lean manufacturing helps you to tackle all of these issues.

One Piece Flow

Just in Time (JIT) Inventory Reduction
Just in Time (JIT) Inventory Reduction | Source
Just In Time (JIT) Single piece flow
Just In Time (JIT) Single piece flow | Source
JIT Just in Time Close coupled Operations
JIT Just in Time Close coupled Operations | Source


To implement Just In Time the first things we need to do is lower inventory levels, to do this we have to tackle several issues, the first to tackle is almost always the issue of setup times. In most companies the size of the batch is driven by the time taken to setup the machines, often many hours to change from one production item to the next. This time has to be paid for so it is allowed for within the cost and an economical batch quantity is defined, normally a few weeks worth of production or more depending on the industry.

The way to tackle setups is to use a lean manufacturing tool called SMED, Single Minute Exchange of Die. The aim of SMED is exactly what it says, it wants to reduce setups to single minutes or seconds. It achieves this by eliminating all of the obvious waste in the setup and separating the “internal” and “external” factors of the setup, the aim being to have as much work done for the setup whilst the machine is still running so that the down time is minimized.

Once setups can be reduced to this level the size of the batch can be reduced, this gives the opportunity to bring operations closer together and enable materials to flow between them. This reduces the need for transportation and excessive amounts of space. The reduction in batch sizes immediately reduces your lead times as each batch will take less time to be processes before you see finished product.

Beyond this we start to look at developing cells and flow lines, then introducing a pull system through Kanban. We can also look at smaller dedicated machines for these cells and lines instead of some of the larger “super” machines that some companies employ to do every product in the factory.

Lowering the level of inventory is like lowering the sea level, each time it gets lower we run the risk of hitting some rocks, we have to either predict which rocks we are going to hit and tackle them or lower the level of inventory and react quickly to the problem that occurs!

Just In Time at Dell

The Benefits

The benefits of Implementing Just In Time, Creating “single piece” flow at the pull of the customer using a flow line approach;

  • Reduced cash tied up in inventory.
  • Reduced space required.
  • Reduced requirements for transportation and associated people and equipment.
  • Reduced lead times.
  • Reduced planning complexity.
  • Problems seen sooner and reacted to, not hidden by the inventory sea!

The benefits of lean manufacturing implementation can be very significant, normally far in excess of what most people believe possible, implementing the principles of Just In Time manufacturing along with the other main principles of Lean Manufacturing (Respect and involving all of your employees in a continual improvement drive towards perfection) will help your business not just to survive, but to flourish! It will help you to reduce costs and improve profits significantly.

Lean Manufacturing Principles

Just in Time (JIT) Lean Principles
Just in Time (JIT) Lean Principles | Source

Lean tools for Just in Time

The other lean principles relevant to implementing Just in Time manufacturing are detailed below with links to the relevant lean manufacturing tools to give you additional information on their implementation.

The reason for implementing Just in Time is not just to eliminate the obvious waste or muda as described by the 7 wastes but also to reduce the less known wastes of Mura - unevenness and Muri - overburden. Muri and Mura describe the problems created by production demand that varies excessively causing overburden on the operators in the system.

These problems can be tackled by implementing Just in Time principles such as Heijunka, heijunka is the process of smoothing production for JIT using tools such as the heijunka board for JIT. Work-cells can also be balanced to help you to achieve Takt time by using tools such as the Yamazumi chart.

The batch size reductions required to enable Just in Time and Heijunka are achieved through the use of SMED (Single Minute exchange of Die) to reduce change over and setup times to a fraction of the current times. We also need to improve our machine reliability through the use of TPM (total productive maintenance) and performance measurements such as OEE.

Once we have smaller batches we can work on the layout to give us flow and pull production through our manufacturing systems using Kanban to drive our JIT system.

All of these improvements at the gemba (workplace) can be built on through the use of kaizen continuous improvement principles.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • OregonWino profile image

      OregonWino 6 years ago

      Great stuff man!! This is a fantastic hub!! Keep up the great work and welcome to the community!!

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 6 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thanks for the comments, I am glad that you liked my hub. Hope to be here for a long time to come, I can feel many hubs itching to escape from my keyboard...

    • johnyater profile image

      johnyater 6 years ago from Hamilton, Ohio

      LeanMan, Very insiteful hub. A good description of JIT and its benefits...

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 6 years ago from At the Gemba

      Thanks for your comments, I hope that more companies out there try to implement JIT as part of lean manufacturing. If we can get our companies more competitive then we can keep production and jobs here rather than keep outsourcing things to China and India and so on..

    • profile image

      Fosamax Femur Lawyer 5 years ago

      Hope I can have the system in my office. Congrats Leanman..

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 5 years ago from At the Gemba

      You could introduce most aspects of Just in Time (JIT) and Lean Manufacturing within an office environment. If you would like some help in this respect feel free to contact me using the link above or through another comment.

    • profile image

      Lorenzo 5 years ago

      This article is great Leanman, now I understand a lot of things more about JIT!

    • profile image

      amzsal89 5 years ago

      how is JIT useful to managers?Im new to all this sorry

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 5 years ago from At the Gemba

      amzsal89, the ideas behind just in time (JIT) are that the company is able to produce exactly what the customer wants, where they want it, when they want it with the minimum of waste. If you are able to implement JIT then you will be able to provide your customer with the best possible service whilst keeping your costs as low as possible maximizing your profits.

      Read some of my other articles on Lean manufacturing using the links available through my profile page (top right.)


    The following are useful links for business support and lean manufacturing resources.

    Manufacturing Improvements Institute for Manufacturing

    Quality Institute Chartered Quality Institute

    American Quality Society American Society of Quality

    Manufacturers Association American National Association of Manufacturers

    Business Innovation and Skills Improvement UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills

    Trade Improvement International Trade Administration USA

    Business Improvements UK Business Link

    US Business Improvement US Business Link

    Toyota Lean Manufacturing and TPS Toyota

    Motor Manufacturers and Traders Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

    Automotive Industry Action Group Automotive Industry Action Group

    These Links will help you to find more information regarding Just in Time manufacturing (JIT) to help you improve your business by implementing lean manufacturing.

    Click to Rate This Article