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The traditional western manufacturers run their production process at below maximum speed to avoid the risk of production failure. This incurs higher costs with increased numbers of inspectors and supervisors. The Japanese work on the opposite criteria, i.e running production lines at maximum speeds, with fewer supervisors, placing the role of the worker as also maintaining all the necessary quality checks wherever possible.

This is probably the most talked about process within the field of lean manufacturing. JIT stands for Just In Time manufacture. JIT is a process of re-designing supplier-buyer relationships. The system works by the manufacturers generally controlling the supplier and production to meet firstly consumer demand, but more importantly, in the sense that goods are sent from suppliers just in time for them to be used in the production process. This allows for costs such as warehouse storage of parts to be eliminated.

Supplier-buyer relationships play a vital role in JIT, as the pre-requisite for JIT production, is the arrival of supplies as and when required for use in the production process. Often suppliers have to make several deliveries a day as a result of the JIT process.

One of the benefits of JIT is that with raw materials and WIP being processed in smaller batches, errors can be easily identified and corrected quickly, during each stage of the production process. This in turn has the ‘knock-on’ effects of reducing non-value added costs such as calculating values of materials in stock, having the need for stock controllers, less warehousing space required, etc.

The purchasing and logistics section of this web-site has more information on establishing buyer-supplier relationships.

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