08 January 2001
For engineers, the handbook they'll need to master for just in time (JIT) manufacturing is Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming, the American statistician who contributed so much to Japan's industrial recovery from World War II. A few of his famous 14 points give the flavor of properly implemented JIT.
- Cease dependence on mass inspection. Rather than inspecting to verify that defect levels are at or below some predetermined, economically acceptable maximum, you should continuously modify, tweak, tune, and jigger around with a production line to eliminate outright the causes of defects. The goal is to get things running in such a way that you can't create defective products.
- End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone. Price isn't unimportant, but consistent quality and reliability from your suppliers is more important. Engineers must commit to working closely with their suppliers to make certain they get what they need, when they need it—even if that means devoting precious time to helping them search out and destroy their quality and delivery bottlenecks.
- Eliminate numerical quotas and remove barriers to pride of workmanship. Believe in the desire of your employees to do good work and—this is hard for many engineers—relinquish minute-by-minute control and let them. Encourage them to invest some of themselves, rather than eight hours a day, in the product. Just make sure your incentives line up with your real goal—high, on-time quality—and don't make them step around you to get there.