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JIT and Other TLA’s

 Ellen Kehoe







By Ellen Kehoe
Senior Editor

Animal, vegetable or mineral—what are TLA’s? Turns out, searching for a selection of papers on just-in-time manufacturing in the SME Tech Paper library brings up many TLA’s—Three-Letter Acronyms, not to keep you in suspense. Just in time (JIT) is one of several related acronyms for production control methodologies, and interestingly, the papers we’re highlighting all have titles posed as questions (really?) or ending in an exclamation point!

Really, MRP-JIT-WCM-CIM—They Are Not Just TLA’s! is Leo Roth Klein’s paper from SME’s Mid-America ’90 Manufacturing Conference. He emphasizes, “don’t believe that because the title of this paper is somewhat whimsical that the topic is whimsical. …This is serious stuff… .” The paper explains the lineup of these TLA’s, from Material Requirements Planning (MRP) to formalize the planning and control of materials, to JIT for executing the plans for materials on the shop floor, to the great leap forward to World Class Manufacturing (WCM), where everyone in the company is working together toward a goal. All of these concepts are part of the path toward CIM, which is where “‘computer’ and ‘manufacturing’ are like the bread of a sandwich. The meat is ‘integrated’! Without the integration we have only kidded ourselves that we are clever.”

Value of Ideas

As an integrated approach to manufacturing evolved, questions abounded about the value and effectiveness of different ideas. In JIT—Does It Work?, the repetitive processes of the manufacturing plan for Apple’s Macintosh facility are the focus. The author presents JIT, or kanban, as the turning point for using microprocessors in the manufacturing environment. The Macintosh project, with the simple, repetitive process of one product in one factory, offered a higher degree of competence and reliability of results.

Australian consultant Russell Flack, in MRP-II & JIT—Which is Better Value?, discusses the debate of whether MRP and JIT are in conflict or are compatible and complementary. MRP-II (Manufacturing Resource Planning) is a “hard” manufacturing control system—and an element of CIM—that enables the optimization of customer service, inventory and cost strategies, while the JIT philosophy is a “never-ending journey” seeking further improvements in the minimization of waste. Flack’s case study examples show that MRP-II and JIT are complementary and, together with the other automated technologies of CIM, “offer optimum tools to enable us to successfully operate our factories into the 21st century.”

Management Friend or Foe

“What if we spend millions on computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and still have manufacturing facilities that cannot compete on a global basis?” asks Susan Lloyd McGarry in a paper from SME’s AUTOFACT ’85. JIT and CIM: Friends or Foes? explains how the goal of CIM is “to integrate machine handling, materials handling, and information handling so that the typical manufacturing process becomes a continuous operation, very similar to the JIT ideal of continuous flow,” and additionally how JIT manufacturing provides “the necessary discipline for the successful investment in CIM.”

JIT vs. FMS—Which Will Top Management Buy? adds another term, flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), to the alphabet soup of choices that risk-averse management had to evaluate in the quest to increase competitiveness. The paper looks at concerns that MRP did not yield the productivity gains that were attributed to JIT and FMS and explains how to zero in on the problem of productivity—waste. FMS brings automation and flow process technology to the job shop and is presented as an advanced application of JIT. Management is advised to consider the intermediate step of JIT before moving to FMS after carefully determining the problem and then evaluating the techniques “in view of how they would solve the problem.”


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Published Date : 10/31/2014

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