JIT inventory is the driving force of Harley's quality-improvement program. JIT works on a demand-pull basis and seeks to eliminate all waste and activities which do not add value to the product. Suppliers of Harley had to implement JIT into their production process in order to compliment Harley's system. Previously, Harley utilized a complex, computerized inventory system, Material Requirements Planning, which was based on maintaining high levels of stock, to offset any manufacturing problems, so the assembly line would not be halted. This system was inefficient because it did not address the manufacturing process problems. This is a typical problem with many traditional firms, where planning becomes the focus. Since the focus for traditional firms is planning rather than control, the result is to try and improve planning for next time. Firms then end up not executing these plans but rather planning and re-planning. With the lean approach the focus is on control. Procedures are kept simple , visual and made as routine as possible. With JIT, as each problem is exposed, you are forced to identify its cause, fix it, and move on to the next problem that is revealed. Although JIT system had top management support, without full employee participation in the planning and implementation, Harley's JIT would not have been effective.
Continuous improvement demands involvement from employees. Harley’s management aligned employees motivation with company goals. All employees take part in a gain-sharing program and are paid cash incentives for attaining and maintaining quality, profitability and product delivery goals.
Harley Davidson has an untypical relationship with its union. The union has considerable control over what kind of work is outsourced to other companies. Hence allowing the union to create a job security by choosing the work that is done in-house.
Harley’s is a...