Just-in-time (JIT) is a key concept in manufacturing. It originated in Toyota as a way to
survive the economic aftermath of World War II and has since become a modern-day
blueprint for Organisational Excellence.
In this article, we’ll uncover more about its history, principles, and how to implement it in
Origins of just-in-time
JIT’s original purpose was to reduce time in operational processes, ensuring efficient use of
all resources. At the time, Japan was facing severe resource constraints and the economy
needed to recover post-World War II. This demanded an approach to manufacturing that
could minimise waste and maximise efficiency.
The first framework
Toyota couldn’t afford to invest in massive inventories or survive the costs of
overproduction. Engineer Taiichi Ohno observed that it was beneficial to produce only
what was needed – when it was needed. And so he developed the initial framework for JIT.
Ohno introduced the concept of ‘Kanban’ – a card system that would indicate the need for
part production or supply. This significantly reduced inventory levels, lead times, and costs.
For example, take a Toyota assembly line where tyre installation is one of the last steps.
The JIT approach could ensure that delivery to the assembly line would be 'just in time' for
installation, which minimised the storage space required, cut holding costs, and guaranteed
the tyres wouldn’t deteriorate in a warehouse.
Just-in-time outside of Toyota
As JIT gained momentum, the philosophy began to take root beyond Toyota. It dovetailed
well with the broader Lean supply chain, significantly evolving the global industrial and
manufacturing landscapes. Now, manufacturers across the world can considerably lessen
waste, quickly adapt to market demands, and operate on leaner budgets with enhanced
Key principles of JIT
● Demand-driven production makes sure it’s only triggered by customer demand,
which minimises inventory costs.
● Process refinement and efficiency help create a culture of Continuous
● Quality management throughout production results in fewer defects and reworks,
meaning lower costs and higher customer satisfaction.
● Fostering strong supplier relationships causes a coordinated supply chain reactive
● The Kanban system facilitates workflow and inventory management visually,
ensuring seamless communication within processes.
● Empowering employees by involving them in problem-solving and process
improvements and providing education and upskilling breeds a proactive culture.
These principles offer a unified approach to managing production and inventory efficiently,
enabling the manufacturing business to adapt to dynamic demands in the marketplace.
Implementing JIT in modern business
To transition to a JIT framework, you’ll need to take a careful approach to change
● A comprehensive education programme so that all employees understand JIT
principles and benefits.
● Process analysis and mapping to enable identification of bottlenecks, waste, and
opportunities for improvement.
● Technology integration to automate and streamline processes, facilitating real-
time data collection and examination.
● Collaborating with suppliers to ensure that they’re aligned with the JIT objectives
and can meet demand.
● Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor and measure the success of JIT
● Cultivating a change management culture receptive to Continuous Improvement.
Adopt the 'just-in-time' approach with Manufacturers Network
By embedding JIT principles into your organisation, you’ll not only reduce operational
inefficiencies but build a culture of improvement and sustainable growth. Your business
will become leaner, increase its agility, boost its competitiveness, and be able to tackle
changes in the modern market.
To learn more about the ‘just-in-time’ principles or sign up for one of our courses, please
● Phone: 0161 533 1617
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