Lean Operations

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Over the past several years, increasingly, there has been a trend within business and manufacturing community to associate JIT with Lean operations. According to “Reference for Business” Lean methodology is Westernized version of Japanese Just-In-Time system, where both of these systems share mostly the same characteristics and goals, and often used interchangeably. Whereas there are similarities between these two methodologies, there are also principal differences between them. It should be noted that these two systems, can also be perfectly used together, and firms can achieve great benefits while implementing these methodologies simultaneously. As described by Slack and Lewis (2012) fundamental elements of Lean Thinking are Customer focus, Synchronization, Behavior, Waste elimination. Lean approach is aimed on meeting demand when it is exactly required with exact quality level and the major trigger in this methodology is the customer who is an initiator of exact request. The more significant stage in lean process is waste elimination, which can be divided into four groups, which are Waste from inflexible response, Waste from inexact supply, Waste from irregular flow and Waste from variability. (Slack and Lewis, 2012, p.92)

Fundamental elements of Just-In-Time philosophy can be identified as Elimination of waste in all its forms, continuous improvement and inclusion of all employees in improvement of operations.

Major difference between these two methodologies is that Lean process is concerned with identification of customer requirement, whereas JIT is focused on production and operations processes. This is also justified by Heizer and Render (2006, p. 641) by their statement that “The major difference between JIT and lean production is that JIT is a philosophy of continuing improvement with an internal focus, while lean production begins externally with a focus on the customer”. One of the aims of JIT at initial stage of implementation is to clearly...
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