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The human aspects of JIT implementation.


The great progress of Japanese industry since the Second World War has been well noted. Expressed in production per man-hour the growth of Japanese productivity since the end of the 1950s has been almost three times that of the Western world. Furthermore, products from Japan generally show better quality and prove to be more reliable compared with products from other countries[1, p. 1]. Japan's industrial success is often explained by management's organization of the manufacturing labour process and its surrounding support or, more precisely, by their logistics capability, expressed in terms of the just-in-time (JIT) production system[2, p. 13; 3, p. 7].

The most notable aspect of Japanese progress is of course its great power. Just as notable is the fact that Japanese companies have been able to develop and refine their systems surprisingly undisturbed, although production managers in the West have known of the methods behind just-in-time for at least ten years[4-6]. Imbalances of this kind usually even out quite quickly but, when it comes to JIT, hesitation is obvious[7,8]. The fact is that there still is a big gap between Japanese and Western companies, and that the greater part of Western industry does not know how to go about closing it[9]. This scenario has been described in the literature for a long time[10,11]. JIT is also well described and we know that it works with very good results in Japan. Now we can also find good examples in Western companies, but it is still implemented on a very limited basis and in general has not achieved its full potential. This indicates uncertainty and/or lack of knowledge when it comes to implementing just-in-time in the West. This is the background and an illustration of the questions addressed in the study.

The work has mainly been oriented towards achieving a better understanding of the fundamental principles behind the successful development of logistics in the industry of Japan, and consequently towards increasing knowledge and understanding of the possibilities of implementing Japanese ways of managing logistics in Swedish industry.

Positioning the project

The fundamental principles and methods behind just-in-time are theoretically very simple. This is one important strength of the concept. On the contrary, it is more difficult to get the concept to work in practice. This cannot depend on the JIT principles as such, but on the way in which they are implemented, i.e. on principles of management including decisions, supervision, organization and so on. The implementation of JIT has been more successful in Japan than in the West, which indicates that Japanese and Western management are in some way different. This is the main reason for the broad approach of this study.

Japanese logistical principles, known here as just-in-time (JIT), are viewed in their broadest perspective as a concept for management and control, emphasizing the elimination of waste in the total process from purchasing to distribution, where waste means anything which increases costs, but not value for the customer. Management emphasizes the importance of the organizational and human factors and control underlines the aim of continuous change from one situation to another, improved one[12-15]. JIT is viewed here as a business philosophy rather than just a manufacturing process or tool for reducing inventories.

As described in the literature JIT can be divided into three categories:

(1) Japanese descriptions of how JIT is managed in Japan[13,16-18]. These tell us a lot about how JIT is managed in Japan, but are of very limited value as a guide for implementing JIT in Western industry.

(2) Descriptions by researchers from the Western world of how JIT is managed in Japan: typical examples are Schonberger[5] and Hall[6]. These often focus on techniques and methods rather than on conditions and possibilities of implementation.

(3) Descriptions of implementation of JIT in the Western world, for instance Jacobson and Hillkirk[19] and Turnbull[3,20]. In this group there are a few attempts to specify models for implementation of JIT, e.g. [21-23].

These certainly reflect experiences of implementation of just-in-time in the Western world, but they are limited by the absence of comparisons between Japan and the West. I think that it is impossible to draw any conclusions about differences in conditions for the implementation of JIT without this kind of parallel comparison. To make JIT really work in Western industry it is necessary to know why it works in Japan.

The body of scholarly qualitative studies based on empirical comparisons between Japanese and Western industries is still very limited. One is Lincoln et al.'s[24] study of 55 American and 51 Japanese companies which focuses on organizational structures, but tells nothing of logistical differences. Another is the IMVP-programme which analyses and compares the worldwide auto industry[9]. Among other aspects it also covers differences in logistics, but it is still limited to the vehicle industry.

This is also observed by Gomes and Mentzer[14]. In their JIT research matrix they categorize JIT research according to two factors:

(1) the research approach; and

(2) the level of analysis used.

Approach refers to the researcher's choice of either a conceptual study, without empirical testing, or a study which does use empirical testing. The level of analysis is categorized into total system approach and non-total system approach, where the first covers the corporate-wide or channel-wide effects of JIT and the second involves only considerations of the effect relating to a subsystem, typically manufacturing, purchasing, or distribution. Gomes and Mentzer[14] have used their matrix to position past research and recognize areas which have received high or low attention[25-40]. They state:

Little if any research has been conducted from an empirical/total system perspective. The reason for this gap may be that gathering data on a total system response, while feasible, could represent a very large and difficult undertaking[14, pp. 78-9].

They also argue for the need of this kind of research:

Applying the suggested matrix to published JIT studies indicates that empirical total system research (which has been shown to be fundamentally important) has not received significant attention of researchers. It is suggested that such an approach and level of analysis should be seriously considered for future JIT investigations[14, p. 85].

Aims and objectives

This study represents what Gomes and Mentzer[14] are asking for, that is an empirical research approach on a total system level of analysis. The focus is on how JIT is managed rather than on what JIT is. The latter has already received a lot of attention[41]. Furthermore, the study illustrates how JIT is managed in Japan, and not how it is managed in other countries, i.e. the way of working with JIT where it has its origin. The project is based on a comparison between companies in Japan and Sweden where descriptions and analyses are viewed in a broad perspective where JIT is regarded as a business philosophy.

The aims of the project are: to describe and analyse the Japanese way of solving problems by means of logistics; compare differences and similarities between Japanese and Swedish attempts to improve the logistics systems; and develop knowledge of applicability and analyse the possibilities of implementing Japanese logistic principles in Swedish industry.

The empirical basis consists of manufacturing industry. A deeper analysis of the importance of differences in culture and tradition is not included. A basic assumption is that culture and tradition are not obstacles to implementing the main parts of JIT in Swedish industry. This might be seen as a controversial hypothesis, but it should be interpreted in the sense that culture and tradition can make the implementation of JIT virtually easy but they are neither barriers to adoption nor prerequisites.

Another critical and closely related question concerning a comparative, cross-national study like this is if social structures and patterns of behaviour in a country are closely related and dependent on physical and environmental structures of the country. If so, we might be faring a situation with a need for separate theories for, in this case, Japan and Sweden. Lincoln et al.[24] have analysed this question in their comparative study between Japan and the USA. They state that: "In fact, with respect to most structural variables, no statistically significant evidence was found that the influences of technology, size, and other task contingencies differed between Japan and the USA. To that extent, organizational scholars concerned for the generality of mainstream theory can rest assured"[24, p. 361].

Separate analysis in connection with this question is not included in the study. I accept Lincoln et al.'s conclusions, and assume that the situation is the same in the comparison between Japan and Sweden. This is an important statement as it implies that it is possible to generalize that the principal features of the results of this project apply to all countries in the Western world.


The empirical basis of the study is made up of 52 case studies in Japan and three in-depth case studies in Sweden. Because of bad experiences of surveys in the field of logistics, and also because of the language barrier, I found case studies a natural choice[42,43]. The ideal method would have been to compare one group of companies in Japan with an identical group of companies in Sweden in a matched pairs approach. This was not possible, mainly because of limited access to companies in Japan owing to the language barrier and the delicacy of gaining access to companies which could be competitors in the same markets.

As the second-best alternative the choice was to visit and investigate a large number of companies in Japan. This gave the possibility of a broader view of just-in-time in Japan, and also the opportunity to identify and compare clusters of companies. JIT is used and implemented in many different ways in Japan. For this reason it might be hazardous to draw conclusions based on a few case studies, even if they are very convincing.

The demands for the Swedish empirical material were different. The question in focus for the Japanese cases was what they really were doing, and for the Swedish cases how to implement what they were doing in Japan. The aim of the Swedish case studies was not to observe at first hand how the companies manage their logistics today, but to obtain a better understanding of the conditions and possibilities of implementing JIT. This is the main argument for multiple case studies in Japan and a few in-depth ones in Sweden. Furthermore, in the light of previous research and my own knowledge and understanding of how logistics are managed in Swedish industry, a number of small case studies probably would have been of very limited value to the study[e.g. 43].

Collection of the empirical data started in Japan. With the focus of the study on industrial companies, production technology was found as a natural basis for categorization of the cases. The classification follows the traditional one which was established by Woodward, with the three broad categories:

(1) unit and small batch; (2) large batch and mass production; and (3) process production[44, p. 39].

For simplicity, from now on they are named special, standard, and process production. The first group comprises 15, the second 24 and the third seven companies. A fourth group of six companies consists of reference cases in the sense that they are suppliers or customers of the companies analysed. They are included to make it possible in some cases to follow the flow of goods and material all the way from supplier to customer and to verify the information from the main cases. Both the Japanese and Swedish case study companies were selected with the ambition of picking out "normal" companies when it comes to JIT and logistics. The purpose was not to select the best and most developed ones.

Another basis for categorization is the size of the companies classified as small, medium and large companies[45,46]. The group of small and medium companies comprises 24, and the group of large companies comprises 22.

The case studies in Sweden were selected with one company in each of the respective groups of special, standard, and process production. Two of them are large companies and one is small.

Collection of data

The visits to the companies in Japan were short and intensive. One visit was made to each company where as many managers were interviewed as the conditions permitted. "Micro-cases" might be a more relevant term, compared with traditional case studies. Even if the cases are limited, they still are considered superior to surveys.

The Swedish case studies are more traditional in the sense that they cover interviews with a lot of people over a period of at least one week at each company, although the method is slightly different compared with most case studies. The interviews cover all functions of the total process from purchasing through distribution. The interviews form the basis of a description of how the companies manage their logistics today. This document was passed back and forth to the persons interviewed until everybody agreed on the description. This had two purposes, one being to establish a basis for parallel comparison with the empirical material from Japan, the other being to find out Swedish managers' apprehensions concerning the conditions and possibilities of implementing JIT in Swedish industry. This methodological approach could, in Yin's terminology, be characterized as reversed "pattern matching"[47, pp. 33-5].

The latter was done in such a way that the state-of-the-art description of the company was transferred to a Japanese version, i.e. exactly the same description was used but under the assumption that the company was located in Japan and run by Japanese managers. The next step was to invite everybody interviewed to a meeting for a presentation of the Japanese version of the company. The purpose was to note their spontaneous reactions towards the "Japanized" company, reactions which reflected barriers and possibilities for the implementation of JIT.

The flow model

To assist structuring and systemizing of the interviews, both in Japan and Sweden, a traditional flow model was used [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. In combination with checklists the model was used to cover as much as possible of the flow of goods and materials from supplier to customer. This model is named "The first model for descriptions and analysis - the flow model".

The flow model was useful for the purpose of collecting and analysing information, but it was limited when it came to analysis of conditions and possibilities for implementation of JIT in the Swedish companies. It was necessary to obtain a better picture of JIT in Japan to transfer the Swedish cases to their Japanese versions realistically.

The Japanese model

This was the driving force behind developing the second model for descriptions and analysis - the Japanese model. The model consists of a list of what can be considered as the main components, or main factors, behind a successful implementation of just-in-time, as observed in Japan. There are some attempts to make this kind of classification in the literature, but they were found to be too limited for the purpose of this project[48-51]. The factors here are categorized in four groups:

(1) Process factors. These aim to support an organizational continuous process of development and improvement. The emphasis here is on human factors and human resource management.

(2) Interaction factors. These aim to improve physical and/or organizational interaction along the total flow of material and goods. The emphasis here is on creation of formal and informal networks.

(3) Structural factors. These clearly represent specified techniques and methods which, when applied, result in structural changes of the physical resources and/or in new ways of organizing parts of the logistic activities. The emphasis here is on administrative techniques and methods.

(4) Effect factors. These represent performance measures, that is the results of the other three groups of factors.

The Japanese model is summarized in the following lists. The factors here are not presented in any particular order, as at this level it would probably be neither possible nor useful[52]:

(1) Process factors

* high performance teams;

* single status;

* close employee relations;

* visibility for everyone;

* adapted measurements;

* focus on time;

* job rotation;

* simple information systems;

* a sense of belonging;

* responsibility for everybody;

* good communications;

* incentive as driving force;

* consensus of decisions;

* decisions made at the right time;

* carry-through decisions;

* life-time employment;

* seniority system;

* long-term visions and aims;

* company language;

* active proposal system;

* management involvement;

* nothing done half-heartedly;

* payroll systems;

* extensive education.

(2) Interaction factors

* customer in focus;

* geographical nearness;

* modulization;

* customer-order production;

* time-scheduled transports;

* co-operation with suppliers;

* quality-certified suppliers;

* total view perspectives.

(3) Structural factors

* kanban control;

* balanced production;

* short set-up times;

* small batches;

* automatic production stop;

* adapted factory layouts;

* right the first time;

* balance by overtime;

* balance by hourly employees;

* safe and clean premises;

* small and well suited machines;

* increased automation level.

(4) Effect factors - examples

* improved feeling of belonging;

* reduced waste;

* more space in the production area;

* higher quality;

* fewer control stations;

* less capital tied up;

* better time efficiency;

* improved customer service;

* more effective information;

* improved visibility;

* improved confidence, etc.

The factor-matrix model

On further analysis this model also showed some weak points, the most obvious being that it is limited to being a basis for static analysis. This shows the need for the study's third model for descriptions and analysis; the factor-matrix. This is basically the same as the Japanese model, but it is presented in a matrix which allows an expanded analysis [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED]. The matrix makes it possible to evaluate and compare the clustered factors in the Japanese model. Analysis in the matrix can indicate a network orientation and/or an orientation towards techniques and methods. The results of the project indicate that the process factors are the basis for successful implementation of JIT. From the process factors it is possible to move either towards the interaction factors or towards the structural factors, or in both directions at the same time. With the factors in these three squares properly implemented and present, it is in the fourth square we can find the effects of the good circles and the win-win relationships which are producing the tremendous trade-up results which have received much attention in the past years.

Measures of logistic capability

Using the factor matrix as a basis, both the Japanese and Swedish case studies have been evaluated, factor by factor, and analysed in the matrix model. One complication here is that most of them are of a qualitative nature, and because of this it is not possible to measure and express them in a traditional quantitative way. In spite of this, the evaluation is carried through and expressed in figures. The analysis is based on a numerical classification of 0, 1, 2, and 3, where 0 implies that the factor in question is non-existent in the company and 3 means that the factor is very well represented. That is that each factor listed earlier has been evaluated in each company and assigned a score from 0 to 3, a total number of 2,420 evaluations. Because of its extent is it not possible to give details of this material. To summarize, and for analysis of the material, mean values are calculated for each cluster.

Measures and evaluations are according to the process, interaction, and structural factors, but not to the effect factors. This means that the conditions and capability behind JIT are evaluated rather than the results, all in line with the Japanese attitude that the way of doing something is more important than the result: "if something is done properly, this in itself produces good results". Further arguments for not evaluating the effect factors are, once again, difficulties in measuring performance comparatively between Japan and Sweden and also the broad perspective of the study in combination with limitations in the accessibility of the Japanese companies. This is, of course, a limitation but not as important as was first thought. There are of course some differences in the effect factors among the Japanese companies, but when compared with the Swedish companies they are all on high levels. They are "best in class" and can in general be evaluated very highly. The aim of the project and the choice of method make detailed measures of the effect factors less important. The evaluation represents relative values, which means that each group of factors in each company has been put in relation to the total empirical material. That is that the evaluation is not done relatively within each country, but as a total for both countries. This is a necessary prerequisite to make the comparison between the two countries meaningful.

There are good reasons for questioning this part of the methodology. The evaluation is a delicate task with the inevitable element of subjective judgements, but where efforts of course have been made to give as fair a judgement as possible, which for instance means that depth is balanced by frequency. Furthermore, a weakness with mean values is that one factor might be of greater importance than another.

But still the methodological approach can be defended. The total number of observations and evaluations is high, and on this level is still relatively high also for each cluster. In the Japanese empirical material 15 special, 24 standard and seven process companies, each with 24 process, eight interaction, and 12 structural factors, were studied. The importance of each factor varies from company to company, but introducing a differential weighting system would require even more subjective judgements, especially as qualitative analysis and interpretations have not been able to verify that some factors are constantly more important and/or have a greater penetration compared with the others.

The methodology must also be viewed from the perspective of the conclusions on which it is based. The figures from the evaluation cannot be used for a detailed analysis, since they are only an expression of a badge of rank along an ordinal scale. For the same reason the scale is restricted to four different degrees. This, in combination with a very simple statistical calculation, means that there are good reasons to believe that the described picture is true enough for the aims of the project. Furthermore, the figures are only a part of the total analysis.


Comparison based on production technology

The first analysis introduced here is of special, standard and process companies in Japan [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURES 3-5 OMITTED]. The results are presented in the factor-matrix. The differences in the process factors between the three categories of companies are so small that we can view them as equal, but one common characteristic is that they are all on a very high level. Here we recognize a common strength in the Japanese companies in that the process factors receive top priority. The differences between the interaction factors are more apparent. They have the highest value in standard companies and the lowest in process companies. This is surprising, as interaction ought to be important for the process companies. An explanation might be that interaction, because of the technical structure, is more built in and mechanically controlled in the process companies. It does not have the same need to be organized and maintained; interpretations that are in line with Woodward[44].

The structural factors show the largest differences between the special and the process companies. One reason might be that techniques and methods, because of their structural limitations, are better qualified in standardized compared with diversified production. But the most interesting point here is the comparatively low values of the structural factors. The structural factors receive surprisingly low priority.

Another interesting comparison is between each category of companies as a total, i.e. the combined total values of process, interaction, and structural factors for each group of companies. This ought to reveal something of their relative logistic strength. This analysis gives 2.4 for special, 2.5 for standard, and 2.4 for process companies. The slight differences are remarkable. Traditionally the vehicle industry and its suppliers have been judged as superior when it comes to logistics. These companies are classified here in the group of standard companies, almost half of the companies in the group having some connection with the vehicle industry. The value of the standard companies is somewhat higher compared with the others, but the difference is small. The vehicle industry in Japan is obviously not superior to other industries. More important is that this tells us, from the point of view of implementation, that just-in-time is adaptable to all kinds of industrial companies.

Comparison based on the size of the companies

Another relevant and interesting question is if the logistic strength is dependent on the size of the company. Table I introduces an analysis of the strength of the factors of each category, divided into 22 large and 24 small companies.

The process factors differ somewhat between small and large companies, maybe because of the need for more conscious attention in the large companies. The interaction factors are, on the other hand, somewhat higher in the small companies, perhaps a condition for survival[53-55]. But the difference is small. We can on the contrary observe a big difference, 1.6 compared with 2.7, between the small and large companies, for the structural factors. A likely explanation might be that the small companies, in spite of their size, do not have the same need for techniques and methods as the large ones[56]. Another explanation might be that the large companies have more resources for development and implementation of techniques and methods.

The total of the factors observed differs from 2.3 for small companies to 2.7 for large companies. This verities that the small companies do not have the same logistical strength as the large ones, but the difference is surprisingly small.
Table I. Comparison of small and large companies

                          Company size

Number of companies     Small     Large

Process factors          2.7       2.9
Interaction factors      2.8       2.6
Structural factors       1.6       2.7
Total of factors         2.3       2.7

Comparison of category and size

Taking the small sample into consideration it is possible to break down the comparison of size by category of company, i.e. to compare small and large companies of each of the groups of special, standard, and process companies (see Table II).

The comparison indicates that the size of the company has a more important influence than technology. Differences in size are more significant than differences in production technology. The values of the structural factors in the small companies are, once again, comparatively low. One interesting observation is that the structural factors of the special companies have the same low value independent of size. An explanation might be that techniques and methods are more useful in companies characterized by repeat and/or mass production. This kind of production is easier to systematize and structure, which also means that techniques and methods are more adaptable.

The combined strength of the factors in Japan and Sweden

The combined logistic strength of all the Japanese companies is presented in Figure 6. The factor matrix verifies, once again, that the process factors are the strongest, and that the structural factors are the weakest in the Japanese companies. The differences between the process and interaction factors are not particularly large; on the contrary we notice a big gap down to the structural factors. This is of interest for several reasons.

This indicates that an orientation towards techniques and methods is not necessarily the best way to increase the logistic strength. Since literature that covers the field of just-in-time has focused mostly on techniques and methods, there are good reasons for raising the critical question of whether this has been the correct focus. This might have caused an incorrect understanding of what JIT really stands for. Consequently, this may have been an obstacle to implementation of JIT in the Western world; we have used "the wrong set of [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE II OMITTED] tools". This is maybe one among other reasons which can explain why Japan has been able to maintain its advantage relative to the Western world.

A similar description of the values in the factor matrix for the Swedish companies provides further arguments for this discussion [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED]. The first obvious difference is that the values of the Swedish companies are, in general, much lower. The second notable difference is that the process factors are the weakest, and the structural factors are the strongest, i.e. a reversed pattern compared with the Japanese companies.

For methodological reasons the basis for the values in Figure 7 is limited to three companies. This is a weakness. To compensate for this complementary interviews were carried out at a late stage of the project. Interviews were made in 23 Swedish companies, four special, seven standard and 12 process companies. Owing to lack of time the methodological approach had to be a bit different compared with the main study. This was acceptable, as the aim of the interviews was merely to get an impression of the possibility of generalizing the pattern of the Swedish case studies in application to most Swedish companies. For each company five to ten people were sitting together, assigning their own scores for their own company to the factors already listed. The result showed higher and more even scores compared with the three case studies: 1.5 for process; 1.7 for interaction; and 1.8 for the structural factors. Because of the different methodological approaches, the results are not directly comparable, but the pattern is still the same. This once again indicates that techniques and methods receive most attention in the Swedish industry, while the process factors get less attention.

There are good reasons, referring to the level of the effect factors in both countries for questioning which priorities are right. This is a lesson for the implementation of JIT. We must focus on the right group of factors from the beginning, and we must give the human factors high priority.

Implications on implementation of JIT

On the whole the project confirms that the human aspects (the process factors) have received very little serious attention in the literature. This is interesting as the results of the study also very clearly show that the process factors are the cornerstones for the implementation of JIT.

On a more detailed basis, broken down into implementation of JIT on the level of category of company, the results indicate that the special and standard companies via the process factors in the factor matrix ought to move in the direction of the interaction factors. This is contrary to the process companies which ought to move simultaneously in the direction of the interaction and structural factors. The same appears to be true for large companies, while small and medium-sized companies ought to move in the direction of the interaction factors. The size of the company has greater impact than category when it comes to choice of direction in the factor matrix.

One result of the Swedish case studies was that the managers of the companies had surprisingly few reservations regarding the Japanese way of working with JIT. Almost none of the JIT-factors in the "Japanese model" was declared by the managers as impossible and/or of no interest for implementation in Sweden. The few exceptions that were registered not surprisingly concerned Japanese working hours and the policy with short-time employees. Both aspects were in general of no interest and, furthermore, not possible to implement because of Swedish regulations. But neither of them was regarded as so important that it represented a threat to successful implementation of JIT.

Two well-known facts have been further verified in this study. First, that implementation of JIT is specific for the situation in hand, depending on, for example, technological and/or organizational restrictions. JIT in Japan has many faces. Second, that implementation of JIT does not represent a project - it is a never-ending process. It is a step-by-step improvement in line with the Japanese kaizen approach[18].

To conclude, there are also good reasons to highlight one "soft" qualitative aspect which has received very limited attention in the literature but was found to be very important in the Japanese way of working with JIT, and that is confidence. One often observed aim of the process factors is to create motivation, but it is just as important to establish confidence among the people in the organization. Everybody must rely on one another; if not, there is a tendency to build in margins and to make reservations, which is devastating for just-in-time.

Summary of conclusions

The elements of just-in-time are described and classified as process, interaction, structural and effect factors. Process factors are related to the human factors focusing on organizational change and development. Interaction factors represent a network orientation and the structural factors a technique and methodological orientation. The effect factors are performance measures and represent the results of the efforts of the other three groups of factors.

The results of the project prove that the companies in Japan are more developed in all groups of aspects than the Swedish companies. More noticeable is that the two groups of companies showed reversed profiles of competence. Where the Swedish companies have their strengths, the Japanese companies have their weaknesses, and vice versa. The process factors are always very strong in the Japanese companies, and they also have a strong network orientation. The Swedish companies show a pattern of weak process factors, but comparatively strong structural factors. An incorrect picture of what just-in-time is really about may have been a significant barrier to the implementation of JIT in Sweden.

One conclusion of the project is that it is necessary to put a lot of emphasis on human resource management, the process factors, to succeed with the implementation of just-in-time. Successful implementation of JIT has to start with the process factors. This is the platform from which it is possible to move in the directions of either, or both, of the interaction factors and the structural factors. The results also indicate that it is possible to implement JIT irrespective of production technology and size of company.

From this basis, together with other analyses mainly concerning the scenarios of the Swedish companies, it is possible to draw further conclusions on the aspects of implementing JIT in Sweden. One important statement is that the Swedish managers, with very few exceptions, did accept the Japanese versions of their companies. They saw very few formal barriers to implementing JIT "the Japanese way". This is interpreted as though it is possible to implement JIT in Swedish industry.

Another very obvious result of the study is that successful implementation of JIT demands a broad approach. The basis is the process factors, but it is necessary to work on a number of factors at the same time, both within and between the categories of process, interaction, and structural factors, and to allow the factors to interact continuously with the purpose of reaching a good result in the effect factors. One key factor for successful implementation is to establish confidence among the people in the organization.

A known fact, pointed out very clearly in the case studies in Japan, is that implementation is very specific for each company. There are no standard solutions, or any use for fixed packages. It is very clear that the implementation of just-in-time must be brought in line with the conditions both within the company and with regard to its environment.

The methodological approach is in itself one result of the study. It is, of course, of theoretical use, but the factor matrix has also shown to be of practical use as a model for analysing the just-in-time status in the single company, both static, as a basis for a state-of-the-art analysis, and dynamic as guidance for future development of just-in-time.

Notes and references

1. A.T. Kearney, Inc., Measuring and Improving Productivity in Physical Distribution, National Council of Physical Distribution Management (NCPDM), prepared by A.T. Kearney, Inc., Oak Brook, IL, 1984.

2. Schonberger, R.J., "Nine hidden lessons in simplicity", Operations Management Review, Spring 1983, pp. 13-18.

3. Turnbull, P.J., "The limits to 'Japanization' - just-in-time, labour relations and the UK automotive industry", New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol. 3 No. 1, Spring 1988, pp. 7-20.

4. Monden, Y., "Adaptable kanban system helps Toyota maintain just-in-time production", Industrial Engineering, Vol. 13, May 1981, pp. 29-46.

5. Schonberger, R.J., Japanese Manufacturing Techniques; Nine Hidden Lessons in Simplicity, The Free Press, New York, NY, 1982.

6. Hall, R., Zero Inventories, Dow-Jones Irwin, Homewood, IL, 1983.

7. Saipe, A.L. and Schonberger, R.J., "Don't ignore just-in-time production", Business Quarterly, Vol. 52, Spring 1984, pp. 60-6.

8. Saipe and Schonberger predicted, for example, in the spring of 1984, JIT to get a quick acceptance: "We expect that, in the month ahead, most repetitive manufacturers will find it hard to ignore just-in-time production"[7, p. 66]. And of course, JIT has had some progress but since then they have noticed that the development has been surprisingly slow.

9. Womack, J.P., Jones, D.T. and Roos, D., The Machine that Changed the World, Rawson Associates, New York, NY, 1990.

10. Hayes, R.H. and Abernathy, W.J., "Managing our way to economic decline", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 58 No. 4, July-August 1980, pp. 67-77.

11. Hayes, R.H., "Why Japanese factories work", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 59 No. 4, July-August 1981, pp. 57-66.

12. There are good reasons, for the sake of clarity, to underline these two aspects. The importance of respect for human factors was emphasized by Monden[13]: "Respect for humanity, which must be cultivated while the system utilizes the human resource to attain its cost objectives". But JIT has been criticized, rightly in my opinion, by being defined to cover only parts of the total system and by emphasis techniques and methods: "The most common notion of just-in-time (JIT) usually relates to its reduction of inventory throughout the logistic system (raw material inventory, in-process inventory, and finished goods inventory). JIT is actually more than this"[14, p. 72]. See also [15].

13. Monden, Y., Toyota Production System: Practical Approach to Production Management, Industrial Engineering and Management Press, Georgia, USA, 1983.

14. Gomes, R. and Mentzer, J.T., "A systems approach to the investigation of just-in-time", Journal of Business Logistics, Vol. 9 No. 2, 1988, pp. 71-88.

15. Zipkin, P.H., "Does manufacturing need a JIT revolution?", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 69 No. 1, January-February 1991, pp. 40-50.

16. Shingo, S., Study of Toyota Production System, Japan Management Association, Tokyo, 1981.

17. Ohno, T., Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow; A Total Management System, Productivity Press, Cambridge, MA, 1988.

18. Imai, M., Kaizen - The Key to Japan's Competitive Success, Random House, New York, NY, 1986.

19. Jacobson, G. and Hillkirk, J., Xerox, American Samurai, Macmillan, New York, NY, 1986.

20. Turnbull, P.J., "The 'Japanisation' of production and industrial relations at Lucas Electrical", Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, 1986, pp. 193-206.

21. O'Grady, P.J., Putting the Just-in-Time Philosophy into Practice, Kogan Page, London, 1988.

22. Hay, E.J., The Just-in-Time Breakthrough - Implementing the New Manufacturing Basics, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1988.

23. Roos, L-U., "Japanisering inom produktionssystem, Nagra fallstudier av Total Quality Management i brittisk tillverkningsindustri", Handelshogskolan vid Goteborgs Universitet (in Swedish), 1990.

24. Lincoln, J.R., Hanada, M. and McBride, K., "Organizational structures in Japanese and US manufacturing", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 31, September 1986, pp. 338-64.

25. According to Comes and Mentzer[14, p. 79] most of the JIT-studies were found on the level for non-systems where the field of conceptual research approach is represented by various authors[26-30]. Empirical studies are represented by others[31-37]. Conceptual total systems are represented by Ebrahimpour and Schonberger[38], Rosenberg and Campbell[39] and by Yoo and Lee[40]. Gomes and Mentzer were by that time unable to identify any studies at all in the field for empirical total system.

26. Jackson, G.C. and Morgan, F.W., "Just-in-time production research issues in logistics", in Cooper, M.C. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Transportation and Logistics Educators Conference, National Council of Physical Distribution Management, Oak Brook, IL, 1983, pp. 100-15.

27. Holbrook, W., "Practical accounting, advice for just-in-time production", Journal of Accounting and EDP, Vol. 1, Fall 1985, pp. 42-7.

28. Finch, B.J. and Cox, J.F., "An examination of just-in-time management for the small manufacturer, with an illustration", International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 24, March/April 1986, pp. 329-42.

29. Ansari, A. and Modarress, B., "Just-in-time purchasing problems and solutions", Journal of Purchasing and Materials Handling, Vol. 22, Summer 1986, pp. 11-15.

30. Ansari, A. and Heckel, J., "JIT purchasing impact of freight and inventory costs", Journal of purchasing and Materials Management, Vol. 23, Summer 1987, pp. 24-8.

31. Huang, P.H., Reese, L.P. and Taylor, B.W., "A simulation analysis of the Japanese just-in-time technique (with kanbans) for a multiline, multistage system", Decision Sciences, Vol. 14, July 1983, pp. 326-44.

32. Kim, T.M., "Just-in-time manufacturing system; a periodic pull system", International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 23, May/June 1985, pp. 553-62.

33. Piper, C.J. and Radford, R.W., "Process automation and just-in-time, critical complements", Business Quarterly, Vol. 50, Winter 1985, pp. 109-14.

34. Bookbinder, J.H. and Locke, T.D., "Simulation analysis of just-in-time distribution", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Materials Management, Vol. 16 No. 7, 1986, pp. 31-45.

35. Lulu, M., "Just-in-time production and process unreliability", in Kimbler, D.K (Ed.), 19th Annual Simulation Symposium, IEEE Computer Society Press, Silver Spring, MD, 1986, pp. 236-49.

36. Philipoon, P.R., "Overlaying the just-in-time with kanban system on an American production environment", unpublished PhD Dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1986.

37. O'Neal, C.R., "The buyer-seller linkage in just-in-time environment", Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Vol. 23, Spring 1987, pp. 7-13.

38. Ebrahimpour, M. and Schonberger, R.J., "The Japanese just-in-time/total quality control production system, potential for developing countries", International Journal of production Research, Vol. 22, May/June 1984, pp. 421-30.

39. Rosenberg, L.J. and Campbell, D.P., "Just-in-time inventory control, a subset of channel management", Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 13 No. 3, 1985, pp. 124-33.

40. Yoo, S. and Lee, S.M., "JIT (just-in-time) production can rehabilitate productivity in the United States", International Journal of Management, Vol. 4 No. 3, September 1987, pp. 268-78.

41. Early descriptions were, for example, made in [5,6,13,16]. Since then a great number of articles have been published in trade publications and journals, the greater part with focus on what JIT is.

42. Abrahamsson et al.[43, pp. 11-21] carried out a survey-study with the aim of identifying companies with a high or low logistics efficiency respectively. After visiting the companies we found the results of the survey very misleading.

43. Abrahamsson, M., Borg, J. and Storhagen, N.G., Forandrade materialadministrativa krav pa sveriges godstransporter, Research in Management, Linkopings Tekniska Hogskola, Report no. 8901, 1989.

44. Woodward, J., Industrial Organization, Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1965.

45. Definitions of large enterprises and small and medium enterprises follow what is stated in the Japanese "Small and medium enterprise basic law" which is always referred to in Japan for this classification. The dividing line between the two categories is 100 million yen in capital, and/or 300 employees[46, pp. 1-2].

46. Outline of the Small and Medium Enterprise Policies of the Japanese Government, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, MITI, Japan Small Business Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, March 1990.

47. Yin, R.K., Case Study Research, Design and Methods, Sage, Newbury Park, CA, 1989.

48. Hay[22, p. 12] is for instance talking about "The seven elements of just-in-time", while Syson[49, pp. 75-80], without any connection with Hay, is describing "The seven keys to just-in-time", Schonberger[2,5] talks about "nine hidden lessons in simplicity", Haley and Piper[50, pp. 61-8] specify ten points that they think should be covered, while Voss[57, p. 5] has found as many as 128 components.

49. Syson, R., "The seven keys to just-in-time, the management of manufacturing, the competitive edge", IFS Publications Ltd, Bedford, UK, 1987.

50. Haley, R.W. and Piper, B.B., "New inventory management approach can substantially cut inventory costs", The Practical Accountant, Vol. 19 No. 2, February 1986, pp. 60-8.

51. Voss, C.A., "The transfer of production management techniques by Japanese companies from Japan to the UK", working paper, Warwick Manufacturing Roundtable, University of Warwick, October 1987.

52. The lists are in fact a summary of "The Japanese model". Each factor is here represented by its title, i.e. by only a few keywords.

53. Other studies have observed the need for and pressure for building networks among the smaller Japanese companies[54,55].

54. Storhagen, N.G., Anpassning eller utslagning - 90-talets vagval for mindre foretag i Japan, Sveriges Tekniska Attacheer, Utlandsrapport, Japan 9101, Stockholm (in Swedish), 1991.

55. Storhagen N.G., "We are the miracle", Gadelius Magazine, No. 3, 1991, pp. 12-16.

56. At least for the organizational structure, Hickson et al.[57] found that it is highly dependent on the size of the company, smaller companies having a more informal structure. They also state that the organizational structure is more dependent on the size of the company than on the technology[57, pp. 378-97].

57. Hickson, D.J., Pugh, D.S. and Pheysey, D.C., "Operations technology and organization structure; an empirical reappraisal", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 14, 1969, pp. 378-97.

Nils G. Storhagen, Department of Management and Economics, Linkoping Institute of Technology, Sweden
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Title Annotation:just in time production system
Author:Storhagen, Nils G.
Publication:International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Date:Mar 1, 1995
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