Just in time (JIT) is a management strategy that improves the business’s return on investment by eliminating waste and improving product quality through simplifying the processes. Recent technological developments have enhanced the scope of JIT and extended the possibilities of introducing JIT in new areas.
The use of technology in a JIT system comes after process analysis and simplification, and technology is not a substitute or shortcut to attain process simplicity. Effective use of the right technologies helps in informed decision making that shortens process time, reduces prototypes, cuts costs, and improves quality.
How the Internet and Intranet Support the Goals of JIT
The success of a JIT initiative depends on the smooth flow of communication and information within the organization. The emergence of the Internet and Intranet enhances the organization’s information processing and communicating capabilities.
The use of the internet and intranet support the goals of JIT by reducing uncertainties and helping reduce the level of safety stock, considered as a waste in JIT.
- The internet allows customers to place orders and the organizations to initiate steps to arrange raw materials, schedule production process, coordinate transportation and the like, all in simultaneous and real time basis.
- The improved speed and data flow aid sharing and processing of information among partners of a supply chain in a better way
- Transmission of information through the internet and intranet facilitates availability of real-time information that enables making a large number of cross-functional interrelated decisions regarding the form, fit, function, cost, and quality of the product or process, contributing to reduced shipping, inventory and holding costs.
The use of internet and intranet supports learning and creativity in organizations that aim at improving process quality.
- The use of email speeds up and extends flow of information among employees across organizations.
- Electronic communication being less formal, workers become more at ease to communicate and express their ideas, and this contributes to reduction of organizational barriers and conveying information that would otherwise remain trapped with the worker.
How Computer Based Design and Manufacturing Systems Support the Goals of JIT
Computer Based Design and Manufacturing Systems such as Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), Computer- Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP), Material Requirements Planning (MRP) Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRPII), and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) rank amongst the major technological advances that support the goals of JIT.
The application of such automated Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems helps design, model and process products, and simplifies and automates processes to achieve JIT goals in many ways, such as:
- eliminating labor intensive non-computerized process, saving time
- eliminating scope for mistakes all wasted time, effort and resources
- eliminating scope of errors and contributing to quality assurance.
- identification and planning of the materials required for the product and each process
- attainment of greater shop floor control
Artificial Intellegence and JIT
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the process of automated decision making through the collection and processing of integrated information from all sources such as engineering, planning, scheduling, fabrication, testing, shipping, and customer service.
The relation between artificial intelligence and JIT is deep. Artificial Intelligence becomes a part of technological advances that support JIT goals by:
- improving utilization of production facilities and thereby boosting productivity
- increasing efficiency through work simplification and automation
- reducing investment in inventories
How Bar Codes and RFID Tags Support the Goals of JIT
Bar codes and Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) provide rapid and reliable item identification-and-tracking capabilities that greatly assist JIT inventory control and work floor process flow.
Bar coding entails scanning a printed label with an optical laser or imaging technology and reading the bar codes individually, RFID tags consist of silicon chips and an antenna that transmit data to a wireless receiver, that not only make it possible to automatically read hundreds of tags a second but also contain more information than bar codes, to recall items more efficiently. RFID tags are more rugged and readable from anywhere, unlike bar codes that require a straight line vision.
How Electronic Kanbans Support the Goals of JIT
Kanbans are signaling systems that provide detailed and specific instructions on what to do and what components to use to each worker. Electronic Kanban or eKanban is the signaling system that uses a mix of technology to trigger the movement of materials within the production facility, and ranks amongst the major technological advances that support the goals of JIT.
A good electronic kanban system goes beyond supporting the traditional kanban activities such as printing electronic kanban cards, and is the foundation for implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or seamless integration of processes and functions within the organization. The ways in which e-kanban improves ordinary kanban include:
- scanning bar coded or RFID inventory at various stages of the manufacturing process to signal usage and send message to restock products.
- routing messages to the workforce and suppliers through the internet or intranet.
- allowing users to calculate when to add or delete kanban cards from the system.
- tracking lost and missing kanban cards.
- adjusting inventory levels based on actual demand. Such a resizing effort is a full time job in large manufacturing units that usually have more than 12,000 manual kanban cards to manage incoming materials.
The application of JIT helps improve product quality by 61 percent, improve product development time by 52 percent, reduce cost by 38 percent, and improve product development time by 71 percent. Technological advances such as information technology power such improvements.
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- Drickhamer, David. (2005). The Kanban E-volution. Material Handling Management, March 2005 ed.
- Technovelgy.com. Advantages of RFID vs Barcodes
- wikimedia commons
- mannewaar/ flickr.com