EE616 Blog Posting – Terry White

March 30, 2011


JIT (Just-in-Time)

March 30, 2011

By Terry White

The best approach in explaining what JIT (Just-in-Time) is to provide some historical, economic and religious background; and what contributed to the emergence of JIT.

What is JIT?

“Just-in-Time is a production strategy which minimizes inventory with emphasis on reducing waste.”1 Execution includes using the right materials, the exact amount at the precise time and location.

Principles include:1

· Continuous improvement [Kaizen] will identify problems immediately and thrive for innovation.

· Respect for people will add value to your people and partners.


History tells us during the Industrial Revolution (i.e., late 1700’s to early 1900’s), Monarchies were overwhelmed by capitalism; and eventually Socialism as capitalists worked their employees relentlessly in order to make money.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII published Rerum Novarum, in which the Pope “commented critically on those whose economic policies had created slums and repressive economic and social pressure. The encyclical criticized both socialist and capitalist excesses and offered in their place classic Roman Catholic Christian guidance that Leo believed would lead to an improved social system. The "Rerum" was hailed worldwide by both Roman Catholics and non-Roman Catholics.”9

What are interesting are the significant events that contributed to JIT and what it has contributed towards.

In 1910 Henry Ford’s Manufacturing Strategy produced the Ford Production System which was noted for its Assembly Lines and Flow Lines. In the 1920’s, labor unions produced challenges; and annual changes to models did not fit the Ford Production System. Ford opposed war, but eventually his plants retooled for war production. What was significant is that in 1940, Ford’s Willow Run facility in San Diego produced B24 Bombers at an amazing one an hour (i.e., 18 a day) and by the end of the war had built 8,800. Some researchers say that Willow Run was the epitome of the Ford Production System which later was transformed by Toyota into Just in Time and Lean manufacturing.1

Toyota Motor Company began to incorporate the principals of the Ford Production System along with the Statistical Quality Control practices (e.g. Total Quality Management) of Ishikawa, Edward Deming and Joseph Duran.1

What eventually inspired the founders was their visit to Piggly Wiggly and observed the automatic drink dispenser. When a customer wants a drink, he gets one and another replaces it. However, on a subsequent visit to a Piggly Wiggly, the delegation was inspired by how the supermarket only reordered and restocked goods once they had been bought by customers. Toyota applied the lesson from Piggly Wiggly by reducing the amount of inventory they would hold only to a level that its employees would need for a small period of time, and then subsequently reorder. This would become the precursor of the Just-in-Time inventory system or sometimes referred to as the “Toyota Production System”.2

Major differences between Just-in-Time and the Ford Production System included the role of inventory, the importance of employees, product variety, quality circles, kanban cards and a “socio-technical system”3. As Toyota continued to perfect Just in Time from 1949 to 19751, other Japanese and American companies started to study and incorporate it.

Throughout the late 1900’s a new buzzword, “Lean Manufacturing”6, emerged. Lean meant manufacturing without waste. Lean Manufacturing would be the set of techniques that would identify and eliminate waste (e.g., Pull Scheduling, Six Sigma, TQM).

Benefits include:1

· Reduced setup time and operating costs.

· Higher quality.

· The flow of goods from warehouse to shelves improves.

“Kanban”4 is a scheduling system, which similarities to Scrum are:5

1. Lean and Agile

2. Use pull scheduling – Production determined by the “pull” from the demand. Movement only occurs when the work station needing materials requests it.

3. Focus on delivering releasable software early and often

4. Based on self organizing teams

5. Require breaking the work into pieces

6. Release plan is continually optimized.

· Employees with multiple skills are used more efficiently.

· Increased emphasis on supplier relationships.

On February 1, 1997 a fire destroyed “Aisin Seiki Co.’s Factory, which supplied brake fluid proportioning ("P") valves to Toyota’s 20 automobile plants. Toyota was producing 14,000 cars a day; and experts estimated that it would be weeks to recover. By the following Thursday, 36 suppliers, aided by more than 150 other subcontractors, had nearly 50 separate lines producing small batches of the brake valve. Toyota deployed 800 Engineers to assist in the recovery. This could have only occurred had it not been for the excellent ongoing supplier relationships that existed.”7,8

Problem that Toyota encountered during initial implementation

Line stopping (i.e., production line had to be slowed or stopped) was frequent (i.e., almost hourly during the first week) whenever there was a process or parts quality problem which surfaced on the production line. By the end of the first month, the rate had fallen to a few line stops per day. After six months, line stops had so little economic effect that Toyota installed an overhead pull-line, similar to a bus bell-pull, that let any worker on the line order a line stop for a process or quality problem. Even with this, line stops fell to a few per week.1


I was fascinated by the history and the events which contributed to Just-in-Time; but more importantly how all this contributed to “Lean Manufacturing”6 and some of the tools that are available that help eliminate waste (e.g., “Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping)”6.


1. Just-in-time (business). Available at

2. Toyota Production System. Available at

3. Socio-Technical Systems. Available at

4. Kanban. Available at

5. Kniberg, Henrik (June 29, 2009). "Kanban vs Scrum: A practical guide". Available at

6. Lean Manufacturing. Available at

7. 1997 Aisin Fire. Available at

8. How Toyota Recovered From A Major Fire in Less Than a Week". Mirror of Wall Street Journal article. 1997-05-08. Available at Retrieved 2006-06-19.

9. A Brief History of Pope Leo XIII. Available at



3 Responses to “EE616 Blog Posting – Terry White”

  1. Great blog Terry. It will be interesting to see how the lean JIT process adapts to the nuclear disaster. In 1997 it helped them to bounce back, but they had their core. Now they will need to come back from a much deeper ‘inventory’ challenge.

  2. Symya Williams said

    Do you Just In Time is best used for manufacturing or can it be implemented in other areas?

  3. Chae York said

    Great presentation….Terry is JIT something that is implemented at your Company?

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