At LAVA we are committed to developing reliable products with maximum efficiency. A key aspect of upholding this commitment is using best practices from a production method known as Just in Time (JIT) production. This article will provide an overview of JIT production, its origins, explain why and how we use it at LAVA, and showcase how applying the JIT method reduced the production time for a customer’s order.
Just in Time production encapsulates the idea of using only what is needed, when it is needed. For manufacturers this entails purchasing only the materials required for placed orders, utilizing the resources on hand with maximum efficiency and eliminating unnecessary inventory storage and costs.
JIT production was created by Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota engineer and executive, in the aftermath of the Second World War. At the time, the Japanese automotive industry was struggling, so Ohno studied the production processes used by successful American automotive companies. The American manufacturing strategy, of the time, involved purchasing materials and assembling products in bulk – thus increasing the volume of products readily available for customers. However, Ohno was skeptical about that production method’s transferability to the Japanese auto sector. He decided instead to focus on identifying ways to improve the efficiency of Toyota’s existing production processes, and developed a methodology we now know as JIT. Using Ohno’s JIT production method, Toyota was able to significantly reduce the time and cost of producing their vehicles, through eliminating overproduction, ensuring employees were not idle on the assembly floor, and cutting down transportation time between factory sections. The time and cost savings brought about by the implementation of JIT led to a drop in Toyota’s vehicle sale price, and reignited consumer demand for Toyota vehicles. By the 1970s and 1980s, JIT production was adopted in America and quickly became a standard production method worldwide.
At LAVA, JIT is an integral part of everyday operations; we use a hybrid production methodology of both JIT and Batch Production. We adhere to the principle elements of JIT – finding, and taking advantage of, time and resource efficiencies within our manufacturing process. Our production floor is laid out for easy access to each work station and organized to streamline the manufacturing process. Moreover, our production staff have years of experience and understand how to fulfil each order as efficiently as possible without compromising the quality of their work. The application of these principles enables production turnaround time to be limited to an average of 2-3 weeks – ensuring customers get their orders as soon as possible.
However, we break away from the JIT model in one significant way: we occasionally build more units than the order requests, to have a small inventory of finished products. This provides references for future product brainstorming or testing, reduces production time on future orders, and can boost our tech support accuracy as we walk customers through using their products. That said, our inventory storage is minimal and the upkeep costs are worth the advantages it provides.
As an example of JIT production principles in practice, LAVA recently fulfilled a 300 unit order of SynC+ P2UE adapters for an international customer, in just over a week. Since we had the PCBs on hand, we were able to move through the 5 general stages of our production process very quickly. First, the PCBs were run through our MyData SMT machines to surface mount the required chips and components. Next, the boards had through hole components added and were passed through the flow solder machine. Lastly, the units were tested, assembled within their casings and were ready for packaging and shipping to the customer. While the timeframes outlined above and the number of steps in the production process vary (depending on the quantity and type of units involved), JIT production allows us to maximise the efficiency of our process and minimize wasted time and resources.
We are constantly searching for ways to improve and refine our capabilities to ensure we provide the best adapter solutions for our customers. Utilizing the elements of production methods like JIT allow us to manufacture quickly and cost effectively, while making the most of the time, labour, and resources at our disposal.