For those who are unfamiliar with the term Just-in-Time Manufacturing (JIT), it is not some new manufacturing technique. In fact, it is more a view or philosophy of life that just happens to be very applicable to the manufacturing process. What it means specifically to Glacial Wood is empowerment.
THE ORIGIN OF JUST-IN-TIME MANUFACTURING
Originally conceived and perfected within the Toyota manufacturing plants in the 1970’s, the concept was to meet customer demand, as needed, or just in time for use. It didn’t matter if the customer was the end user or just the next step in the manufacturing process. To Toyota’s point, any other way was wasting effort and resources. To them, the key components of JIT were these 10 items:
- Small-group activities
- Flexible manufacturing
- Setup time reduction
- Production leveling
- Good housekeeping
- Small Lot production
- Total preventive maintenance
- Total quality control
- JIT purchasing
- Line balancing
By focusing on team rather than individual efforts and giving each member of the team both responsibility for and authority over the finished product they created, JIT eliminated much of the waste associated with …
- Product defects
- Waiting time
- Waste of motion
and created what has become the international model for lean manufacturing.
HOW THIS AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINE
For companies and their customers, this lean manufacturing philosophy translates into one very powerful word, savings. The good news doesn’t end there, though. The freedom, control, and responsibility that is instilled in the team allows them to constantly improve how things get done. If an individual or a team believes that a new component being built will improve the workflow or the quality of the product, it doesn’t require a study by a team of engineers and managers, who have never actually performed the task, to decide to try it. If it is a major change, the teams who perform the work every day can present the model for approval, or for minor changes simply build it on their own. This is one of the core principles of the just-in-time manufacturing philosophy. No one knows a job better than the person who performs it every day.
The entire JIT philosophy of team self audits and freedom over their own processes creates an atmosphere that fosters an ever-improving workflow, quality of product, and team morale. This naturally translates into an ever-more effective, lean manufacturing processes, lowered production cost, higher profit margins for the company, and better products at lower cost for the customer.
WHY IS JIT IMPORTANT IN MANUFACTURING?
As a customer, all of the above points should be very important to you and as a manufacturer they are definitely enticing, but in the traditional “top down authority” world is it really worthwhile to turn everything upside down and adopt a just-in-time manufacturing philosophy? We believe so. Not only does a company like Glacial Wood gain the advantages offered by:
- Greater performance and throughput
- Higher quality
- Improved delivery
- Increased flexibility and innovation
We also gain advantages in higher team member retention, a major expense with skilled workers, ever -increasing skill and knowledge levels on their teams, a smaller physical footprint and lowered expense because of less need for warehousing. Most importantly, lean manufacturing gives companies the freedom to concentrate on you, our customers, instead of the manufacturing process. That is left to the experts on our team.