Just in Time by Toyota: The Smartest Production System in The World

Just in Time by Toyota: The Smartest Production System in The World

I’m Alex Berman and you’re watching SELLING
BREAKDOWNS. Whenever you buy a complex piece of equipment
such as a TV or a car, do you ever wonder; how exactly it all came together? Well, ever since the industrial revolution,
that “how” has been a vital question for many businesses. Today, we’re going to look at how in post-war
Japan, Toyota helped to create one of the smartest production systems that we have,
named “Just In Time”. We’ll look at how it works and how you can
apply the philosophy and practises to many other areas of business. After World War 2, Japan faced some difficult
problems; they didn’t have a lot of cash, resources were scarce, and there wasn’t
a lot of free land to expand factories. However, Taiichi Ohno at Toyota managed to
turn these problems into advantages by slowly creating the Just In Time system. The idea didn’t all come at once, it’s
more that through the 50s and 60s, various changes were implemented and improved until
the 70s were the wider world began to realise the benefits and adopted a similar approach. So, what is Just In Time? The philosophy is to make the entire production
system only work with what it needs and to minimise wait times between each stage. The big saving is normally around inventory. Before Just In Time, a company would keep
a warehouse filled with the parts and raw materials it needed. When supplies were getting low, they would
reorder when they had just enough to keep going until the new delivery came. But Toyota realised; what if you just keep
making that same order, as soon as the next one arrives? That way, you never need to keep this stockpile
of spare parts. The cost savings were huge since warehousing
is seriously expensive; you need to pay for a massive space, power, staff, security, and
for parts that are just sitting there, waiting, not making you money or adding value to your
product. And this is the core of Just In Time; you
look at each area of production and ask “is this adding value to the product?” If it isn’t, maybe there’s a better way
to do it. You cut everything down to it’s most efficient
form, with almost no room for error, which is where the risk in Just In Time lies. Toyota used Japan’s relatively small size
to its advantage. You could rely on suppliers delivering exactly
on time because they only had to travel small distances. If you get problems with supply then it can
shut down the whole system. But it’s normally worth the risk; the savings
are huge, on inventory and staff costs. More than this though, you are forced to create
a working philosophy that there is no room for error; you don’t have spare parts or
spare time so you have to make sure everything functions perfectly. Often efficiency comes at the cost of quality,
but not in this case. In Just In Time; you are forced into quality
in order to be efficient. That’s why it’s applicable to many other
areas of business. The best way to think about it is if we simplify
everything to two approaches; Just In Time and Just In Case. With Just In Case, you are trying to minimise
risk by always giving yourself a buffer. You’ll carry extra stock so you can swap
out faulty items. You’ll over-staff certain areas because
they’ve occasionally had too much work to deal with. You’ll support a service that just a few
customers ask for. With Just In Time, you don’t simply cut
these areas and cross your fingers that nothing bad happens. No, you work out how you can avoid them happening
in the first place. Because this is money that is wasted unless
a bad thing happens, you’re effectively investing in mistakes. Better quality control means staff can trust
the stock they have so they don’t need a back up. As for workloads, the only reason one department
is hit by a workload they can’t handle is because there is not enough visibility between
departments. If your sales team know the capacity of production
and its current status, then they won’t put in an order that can’t be filled. And as for offering a service with limited
customer appeal, well, maybe you cut it out completely or just find a way to merge it
with other services so the resources it requires are absolutely minimal. When done well, the Just In Time philosophy
should be good for moral too because the whole point of it is telling your staff “I’m
trusting you to perform consistently” and I think most of us respond well to that kind
of respect. Wanna learn more about business theory and
history? Be sure to like and subscribe to be notified
of our next segment.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Great episode! Funny enough i visited a factory in italy, where they manufactured spare parts for heavy machinery and they were the main supplier for all over the world. So i guess this kind of production system could cooperate with smaller companies from countries where they lesser cost for storage.

  2. I'm writing an assignment on JIT for third year Uni and this helped massively. although still struggling like heck.

  3. Just In Time, Agile Manufacturing, Lean Production……less workers, no spares, quadruple the workload, triple the pace of work …equals…..greater worker fatigue, more worker injuries, more worker anxiety, more mistakes, more substance abuse problems, more animosity between workers and supervision and…..more hatred of the Union representatives. Conclusion…….higher profits but more worker injuries, fatigue, marital problems, higher illegal drug use, alcoholism and gambling addiction.

    Mr. Blair M. Phillips
    St. Catharines, Ontario
    Retired GM of Canada employee

  4. JIT is great, but it’s actually only one part of the Toyota Way. If a company focuses only on JIT, then you will get a situation such as what Mr. Blair Phillips describes below. One exception though: if you’re ignoring you’re workers well being, then there will still be a significant amount of muda caused by this muri you are placing on your team. So even if you get some gains just by implementing JIT (you probably won’t) you’ll still be missing much more that you could have gotten if you had tried to really implement the Toyota Way to its core philosophies

  5. Inventory cant be removed completely at some point in value chain…. inventory has been kept…. may be toyota supplier or their suppliers or their suppliers kept some initial invantory

  6. This shows why Brexit will be a disaster for the UK. JIT will not be possible with large trade barriers with its supply chain in Europe.

  7. JIT is just part of the Toyota Production System: TPS is like a house, you have the walls (quality and efficiency AKA JIT), the floor (5s, problem solving tools, etc), the roof (vision of the company) and the inside you have the people. If the people are not trained properly, there isn't good leaders, staff morale is low the system will eventually fall apart. Any company can implement a Lean/TPS like system but maintaining it is the real challenge.

  8. JIT shouldn't be seen as a silver bullet compared to other assembly methods, but rather, JIT is a mean to solve a specific problem.

    The benefit of JIT is to "minimize unnecessary waste" by streamlining the whole process to the smallest detail, from start to finish e.g. charting bottlenecks & cycle time, but it also means the whole system design is under lock down, and if any change to one part of the system, it require to examine every part of the system, because the whole system have to be in sync including the humans element.

    A positive side effect of JIT is "customization" (less talked about), because in a batch production system (Just in Case) it cannot easily employ customized assembly requirement e.g. car 1: install analogue radio + drum brakes + retractable sun roof + color white body panels + grey seats color Car 2: install digital screen + disc brakes + non-removable roof + red body panels + racing seats.

    Small or medium company prefers quicker turnaround products rather than using JIT as a way to compete with the larger competitors who may have the resourced to employ JIT, because by nature JIT are difficult to adapt to new situation and generally it a logistical nightmare e.g. as it require real time monitoring and tracking to the smallest detail including packaging, feed orientation, weather.

    This is why most designs from the automotive industry are evolutionary not revolutionary i.e. slow to adapt.

    e.g. i8 concept first revealed in 2009 and i3 in 2011, but production start in 2013. Not the best car example but even so it normal taken years for any major change such as the i3


    Those who don't use JIT:
    – Lego or small toys
    – any small products including bicycles
    – consumer electronics

    Those who do use JIT:

    – Short shelf life e.g. fresh food (veg & meat) or frozen food & medication, Supermarket
    – Any Product allow for some Customization or personalisation (fashion & fast food is questionable)

  9. If you want to grow your business and start working with clients that can afford you, check out our free presentation at Email10k.com

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