Just in Time (JIT) supply is a common tool within lean manufacturing. JIT can bring about significant efficiencies and cost savings through optimizing inventory levels within a production environment.

Just in time isnt an overly complicated system but making it work effectively requires careful planning and lots of preperation. If your looking to implement JIT there’s a few things you’ll want to consider.

1/ Draw up a plan appoint a sponsor

Someone within the organization needs to own the process. This should not just be to ensure that the business follows an implementation route but to ensure that the business optimizes itself for just in time – this could be as simple as agreeing production plans or as diverse as work cell reorganization to ensure the business maximizes the potential.

2/ Communicate your Just in time plans to your workforce

Implementing JIT is a big change and one that will require the participation of the workforce. Ensure communication starts at an early stage – there are a number of common problems with JIT which are typically associated with a reluctance to reduce inventory levels (which can act as a buffer against non-supply) and a requirement to place a fair degree of trust in the supply chain.

3/ Data Gathering and validate inventory levels

Gathering accurate data relating to inventory levels is a crucial task – knowing where you are with your inventory before you start will ensure that you get your initial signals to the supply chain correct – overlook this step at your peril!!

4/ Establish a production plan

Some form of production plan is established determining optimum production lot sizes and lead time needs that can be fed through to suppliers.

5/ Communications with the supply chain

Key to JIT is a well established relationship with the supply chain. Suppliers must have the ability to ship to schedule against requirements. A process should be established for reviewing and resolving issues that come up to ensure that supply remains constant. You may also want to consider providing suppliers with forecasts to provide maximum visibility and reduce the impact of demand variability on the supply chain.

6/ Establish a material signalling process

Another key step – consider using Kanban to act as a signal for material replenishment.

7/ Document processes and train Staff

Ensure your JIT plan is well documented and that processes are known by all participants – do not overlook the requirement to train staff – ensure that any initial training is regularly topped up with refresher training during the launch. Monitor the performance of your JIT program and consider further training where weak points occur.

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