It is often cited that Caribbean companies cannot utilise JIT because so much of a manufacturers raw material must be brought in by bulk from overseas. This is a misunderstanding of JIT that requires clarification.

Just-in Time (JIT) was originally a Japanese manufacturing philosophy, which is now widely adopted by companies and supply chains throughout the world; it is very closely allied to Lean Manufacturing and often encompasses many lean methods.

JIT is a disciplined approach to improving total productivity and provided for the cost effective supply, production and delivery of only the necessary quantity of parts and products at the right quality, at the right time and at the right place. Any deviation from these requirements means that either resources are being wasted or that the customer’s needs are not being respected.

JIT is a pull system of production in which each subsequent manufacturing operation is a customer of the former, not just the final client based on actual need as opposed to a pull system like MRP in which demand is forecasted and products are manufactured to this forecast and pushed through the system. So JIT pull is good for repetitive production or parts of production in which the production schedule can be consistent or levelled, whereas MRP push can be used in any form of production but is particularly applicable when demand is lumpy or the production schedule is a consequence of the offset of various lead times.

Since in JIT, a subsequent operation sets the request for product on the former there needs to be some form of trigger. This trigger is called a Kanban. Kanban is Japanese for sign or card and the sign or card is the communication between work stations that more parts or product is needed. The type of Kanban depends on the organisation and its activities and could be; literally a card, a computer communication, an empty box for parts, or a container etc.

C&G International has worked on a number of JIT implementations and there is no standard JIT system. One example within an export orientated root crop flour facility is as follows;

Raw root crops were to be stored in a specific compound outside the plant ready for processing; the first operation was to wash and chip the root crops, after this the chips were sent to large drying compartments for drying, they were then loaded into tote bins and stored in a storage room as work in progress before being transported to a mill for milling into flour and packaged into sacks, finally the sacks were stored in a finished product storage room on storage racks which were calculated to hold a twenty foot container load plus a small safety stock awaiting a container for export.

In the above example; the container would arrive based on an agreement between the organisation and the customer. Now:
• The empty container was to be the Kanban or authorisation for operators to start filling the container with sacks of flour.
• As the container was filled the empty storage racks was the Kanban for the mill to start replenishing them
• Since the mill needed dried chips from the dried chips storage room, the mill operators sent a notification (Kanban) to general workers to bring tote bins of dried chips to the mill
• The empty tote bins became the Kanban for the washing, chipping and drying operations to start
• And of course the empty or nearly empty raw material compound became the Kanban for more supplies

The process sounds simple and indeed the object of JIT is to make manufacturing simple, but also the process highlighted the fact that because of the long drying and milling times the turnaround of a container for export was two weeks and anything above this would mean that the container would miss its export shipping window, introducing waste into the process. JIT is inextricably linked to Lean Manufacture and in this case the other aspects of Lean; machine effectiveness, right first time, rapid change over etc. had to be applied.

To find out how JIT techniques can be effectively utilised within your organisation then Contact C&G International Inc.