Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, also known as just-in-time production or the Toyota Production System (TPS), was first developed and perfected within the Toyota manufacturing plants by Taiichi Ohno, is a methodology aimed primarily at reducing cycle times of various activities within production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. JIT is a common inventory management technique and type of lean methodology designed to increase efficiency, cut costs and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed. Its origin and development was in Japan, largely in the 1960s and 1970s.
JIT is seen as a more cost efficient method of maintaining stock levels. Its purpose is to minimise the amount of goods you hold at any one time without compromising the production volumes. And this has numerous advantages such as less space needed, with a faster turnaround of stock; we don't need as much warehouse or storage space to store goods. Less stock levels also means lesser investment.
Many other companies also have been using similar concepts although with different names. Motorola used the concept of short-cycle-manufacturing (SCM), IBM used the concepts of continuous-flow manufacturing (CFM) and demand-flow manufacturing (DFM).
In recent times, JIT has been replaced with the newer concepts of Lean-Manufacturing which also has come from Toyota. Although it started from Toyota, but today it is much more widely adopted across companies worldwide. Some of the leading companies where they use JIT is Dell, HP, McDonalds to name a few.
JIT is closely associated with other concepts such as TQM, Kanban and Continuous Process Improvement etc. JIT aims at producing the exact quantities of items for the exact demand by maintaining just the exact amount of inventory both on the raw material side as well as on the finished good side.
To achieve this kind of lean management, it requires extremely careful planning to manage the entire supply chain including raw material procurement to finished good delivery to the end customer. And such planning in turn needs the use of sophisticated technology and software solutions.
JIT is a philosophy which proposes to achieve the maximum with minimum inputs. This can be achieved only if all the parties involved in the entire ecosystem of supply chain will be committed to achieve this and work cohesively with great amount of coordination. JIT will need very careful planning and timely communication in the chain. The whole organization must be committed to this philosophy.
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