Lean Operations and Jit Management:


The backdrop against which lean thinking was originated was the Japanese automobile industry of the 1970s. Since then there has been increasing attention paid to alternative methods of operations planning and control to the more conventional approaches of statistical inventory control and material requirements planning. Twenty years ago the lean approach was relatively radical, even for large and sophisticated companies. Now the lean approach is being adopted outside it traditional automotive, high-volume and manufacturing roots. But where it is applied, the principles remain the same. The key principle of lean operations is relatively straightforward to understand – it means moving towards the elimination of all waste in order to develop an operation that is faster, more dependable, produces higher-quality products and services and, above all, operates at low cost. However, the means to achieve this lean state are less easily explained and sometimes counterintuitive. This is why it is best to start developing an understanding of lean operations through the phrase that is often used interchangeably with ‘lean’ – Just-In-Time (JIT) or sometimes lean synchronization.

This section therefore outlines both the philosophy and techniques of just-in-time management. Firstly the methods of "pull" logistics management, of which just-in-time is one form, will be compared with the "push" systems as conventionally used by the majority of Western manufacturers. Then, following an introduction to the basic JIT concept, techniques for internal and supply just-in-time management will be outlined. The links between JIT and contemporary approaches to quality through continuous improvement are then presented. This section concludes with a more general discussion of contemporary supply chain management issues.