Operations management has increasingly become complex in the modern society where efficiency and cost reduction are critical issues in achieving success. According to Levine (2010), firms are under pressure to find ways of improving their operations management strategies using concepts that can help in identifying and eliminating redundancies, reduce production time, improve efficiency and reliability. Many concepts have emerged in the recent past that operations managers can use to improve this important department. Just-in-Time is one of the concepts that have gained massive popularity in operations management. The issue of product design is also becoming critical in defining the overall quality of the products that are delivered to the clients. In this paper, the researcher will review three articles that focus on how Just-in-Time can be used to improve efficiency in operations management.
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Introduction and summary of the articles
The researcher will review three articles that focus on how Just-in-Time concept can be applied to improve operations management within a firm. The article by Faccio, Gamberi and Persona (2013) focuses on the adoption of supermarket concept in the operations management. It emphasizes on the need to have a clearly arranged warehouses where raw materials are arranged in a logical manner to reduce time wastage in the production unit. The article Multi-criteria models for just-in-time scheduling by T’kindt (2011) focuses on Just-in-Time philosophy. Under this philosophy, the author emphasizes on the need to organize the elements of production to promote coordination among the relevant stakeholders and improve efficiency at all stages of production.
The article Assessing the impact of just-in-time on operational performance at varying degrees of repetitiveness by Bortolotti, Danese, and Romano (2013) talks about ways in which Just-in-Time concept can be used to promote lean management, especially when addressing production tasks which are always repetitive. According to the article, the repetitive nature of production activities makes it easy to come up with a standard model that can be used at every stage to minimize resource wastage, redundancy, and time wastage. The three articles will be critically analyzed to determine the relevance of this concept in operations management and how firms can use it to promote efficiency and lower the cost of production.
The summary of the three articles reveals the following important learning points that operations managers should observe.
- Achieving efficiency in operations management requires a clear model that defines the specific activities that should be done by individual employees and how they should relate within the production unit.
- Operations management is an interdisciplinary activity that relies on various other activities within a firm.
- Just-in-Time is an effective concept that can be used to improve operations management efficiency if applied properly.
- Just-in-Time concept can only be successful if it is supported by all the stakeholders, especially the employees whose duties shall be redefined under the new system.
- It is important to be gradual when applying this new concept to reduce the possible cases of resistance among the stakeholders.
- As an operational manager, one must appreciate that employees are the most important resources to any organization and that they can never be replaced entirely by machines.
These learning objectives should inform the operations managers and top officials when planning to introduce new concepts within a firm which are meant to improve efficiency and lower the cost of production.
Critical analysis of the articles
In this section, the researcher will critically analyze the three articles, identify the advantages and disadvantages of their contents and research approaches, and determine how they can be used in a practical context. The article by Faccio et al. (2013) brings out a new perspective of how Just-in-Time concept can be used within the production unit. The new perspective is called the supermarket concept that emphasizes on the arrangement at the production plants. According to the authors, a lot of time is always wasted in the production grounds because of unclear arrangements of the raw materials.
This wastes a lot of time as employees are forced to look for the needed materials in different places. The advantage of the content of this article is that it defines how a warehouse should be arranged to eliminate time wastage. The mathematical approach used in this research further enhances its validity and reliability. However, the main weakness that was noted in this article was that the authors failed to conduct practical experiments in a number of firms. This would have helped in testing some of the theories developed by the authors.
The article by T’kindt (2011) focused on scheduling as a critical process in manufacturing. According to this author, Just-in-Time is a concept that is largely based on scheduling of activities in the production process. Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, and Sutton (2010) say that scheduling of production activities has been a common practice for several centuries now. However, Just-in-Time philosophy gives it a new look. It creates a common pattern that is created after reviewing of production activities and identifying the strengths and weaknesses. It is developed with the overall aim of managing the weaknesses and taking advantage of the strengths. It also seeks to find the best way of integrating machines and human resource in a workplace environment. The advantage of this article is that it brings together the concepts that were developed by other scholars and explains how they can be used alongside Just-in-Time concept. However, its major weakness is that it over-relied on the secondary sources of data to support the limited primary data collected.
The article by Bortolotti at al. (2013) focused on how Just-in-Time concept can be used to promote lean production within a firm. According to the authors, manufacturing involves repetitive processes that follow a given pattern. The pattern can be monitored- from the time of acquiring raw materials, storing them in the warehouse, and processing them to finished products- with the aim of developing a model that can be used to improve efficiency. Firms are now embracing the concept of lean production, by replacing employees with machines as a way of improving reliability and efficiency in the production process.
However, Johnston, Clark and Shulver (2012) warn that this can be used as the only strategy of achieving high performance. The operations manager will need to understand how the remaining workforce can be integrated well with the machines to ensure that redundancies and wastage of time and materials are eliminated from the entire system. The main benefit of this article is that it is comprehensive in addressing the issue at hand. The fact that the authors collected data from a sample of 244 plants and used SEM (Structural Equation Modeling) procedure in data analysis makes it very reliable. However, some of the models championed in this article may not work well for a firm that is currently using JIT strategy.
The three articles have provided a clear knowledge of how Just-in-Time Concept can be applied in the operations management. It is clear that this concept can be applied in many settings besides manufacturing processes. Implementing the proposed strategies requires an understanding of the operational issues that a manager has to deal with at a given time. The approach that a production manager at a hotel will use to improve efficiency and lower the cost of operation may be different from the approach of a production manager at a car manufacturing plant. The uniqueness of one’s internal environment and factors of production determines how the concept can be modeled to achieve the desired objectives. For instance, the main aim of a production manager may be to eliminate cases where foods perish either because of overproduction or ordering excess raw materials. On the other hand, the aim of a production manager at a car manufacturing plant may be to eliminate defects in the products. Based on one’s objectives, the concept can be modeled uniquely to achieve the intended goals.
Just-in-Time is an operations management concept that has gained massive popularity as stated in the literatures reviewed in this article. The concept was first developed to help the manufacturers improve efficiency and cut costs in their production processes. However, it has become a very useful tool even among the players in the service industry. It is now widely used by firms all over the world.
Bortolotti, T., Danese, P., & Romano, P. (2013). Assessing the impact of just-in-time on operational performance at varying degrees of repetitiveness. International Journal of Production Research 51(4), 1117–1130.
Faccio, M., Gamberi, M., & Persona, A. (2013). Kanban number optimization in a supermarket warehouse feeding a mixed-model assembly system. International Journal of Production Research 51(10), 2997–3017.
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Johnston, R., Clark, G., & Shulver, M. (2012). Service Operations Management: Improving Service Delivery. New York: Prentice Hall.
Levine, H. (2010). Project portfolio management: A practical guide to selecting projects, managing portfolios, and maximizing benefits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., & Sutton, M. (2010). Operations Management in Practice. Hoboken: Wiley & Sons.
T’kindt, V. (2011). Multi-criteria models for just-in-time scheduling. International Journal of Production Research 49(11), 3191–3209.