What is "just-in-time" (JIT) manufacturing?
Just-in-time (JIT) or lean manufacturing is a strategy originally pioneered by Toyota in the 1970s and then copied in the United States. Its effect was to revolutionize manufacturing processes, and its aims were to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and improve profitability. Older forms of manufacturing had much longer lead times and relied on storing large quantities of components and finished products in warehouses in order to anticipate needs. JIT has a very streamlined production in which factories produce products in precisely the quantites needed and order components and materials to arrive just in time to be used in production. The strengths of this procedure are its efficiency and profitability. The weakness is that it is highly dependent on IT, and somewhat less robust than traditional manufacturing, as recent disruptions in the wake of the Japanese tsunami demonstrated.