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What are the Key Elements of JIT?

A successful JIT production control systems usually have the following four key characteristics:

1. Improved plant layout. The layout of the plant must be improved to curtail distances work in process must travel. In conventional plant layouts, all of the machines of a similar class are assembled together in one location. For example, all of the milling machines are usually in one location and all of the drilling machines in another. Consequently, work in process should often move long distances between operations. There are a number of problems with this. First, moving components around the plant results in unnecessary costs. Second, moving introduces waiting time. The components sit around waiting to be moved and then it takes time to actually move them. Third, it is difficult to keep track of individual items when the inventory is scattered all over the factory floor. 

2. Reduced setup time. Reduced setup time provides the capability to respond quickly to customer orders and reduces the need for safety stocks. 

3. Low defect rates. A company should constantly strive to reduce the defects. Large numbers of defects require that excess work in process be put into production to ensure that there will be sufficient defect-free output to meet customer orders. Therefore, defects should be eliminated as much as possible in a JIT program.

4. Flexible workforce. Workers should be multi-skilled in a JIT environment, which is often organized into small “cells” that contain all of the equipment required to carry out many steps in the production process. Workers need to be able to use all of the various pieces of equipment in the work cell. Also, workers are typically expected to perform maintenance tasks on their own equipment and to do their own quality inspections.
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