Australian industry is not anywhere near being a world-class manufacturer, which obviously leaves scope for a great deal of improvement. The object of this thesis was to investigate a manufacturing philosophy the Japanese have been evolving since World War II, that is Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing. The experiences of these Japanese companies, together with American, Australian, and United Kingdom companies using JIT was evaluated though a literature search.
Through the Technology Transfer Council (TTC) in Brisbane, a list of companies using JIT in Queensland was obtained. A telephone questionnaire was employed, using open-ended questions to find out their experience with JIT. From the results of this questionnaire, three companies were selected for detailed study viz. Bandag Manufacturing, Rover-Scott Bonnar, and Queensland Rubber Company, because of their differing degrees of success with JIT. During the course of carrying out these studies, it became apparent that the TTC had a major influencing role in the adoption of JIT in Queensland, and they too became a case study.
With JIT, the Japanese have become world-class manufacturers, from literally the ashes of World War II. JIT has essentially redefined what is meant by quality, ie. it is fitness for use. This has enabled Japanese companies to use quality to lower costs, to increase market share, and to increase productivity. JIT has evolved into a problem solving discipline, which encourages innovative thinking, and often bypass the traditional company way of doing things.
JIT was not a panacea for bad management or poor industrial relations. It was not simply an inventory reduction system placing extra demands on suppliers, as some U. s. firms have found. Rather, it focused attention on how the skills and knowledge of employees could best be used to improve quality and productivity. It was therefore also about participative management.
For the relatively few Australian companies using JIT, their successes have been dramatic. The more a company has "made those features of JIT applicable to their environment a part of its way of doing things, the greater the success it has achieved.
Some of the quantitative successes quoted were:
(l) increased productivity by up to 80%
(2) lead times reduced by 70%
(3) total inventories cut down to one third of pre JIT levels
(4) reduce rework time tenfold
(5) cut in work-in progress by 70%
(6) reduction of union disputes and disruptions to virtually nil.
Non-quantitative success included:
(1) better worker morale
(2) better relations with suppliers
(3) better relations with customers