Overlaying the just-in-time with Kanban system on an American production environment

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


During the past several years, the publicized successes of Japanese production management techniques have created an interest in the potential of these techniques for application in an American manufacturing environment. One such Japanese technique that has been the focus of much attention from American manufacturers and production managers is the "just-in-time (JIT)" technique implemented with "Kanbans.”¹ However, the applications of the JIT technique in Japan that have been reported have been for large scale assembly line operations that, in general, encompass the unique physical and philosophical characteristics typical of Japanese production systems.

The factors that contribute to the success of the JIT system in Japan are frequently not exhibited in manufacturing systems in the United States, especially in American systems that combine assembly and shop-type operations and encompass a high degree of system variability. As such, it is questionable whether the JIT technique can be successfully adapted to American manufacturing systems~that do not display the characteristics of Japanese production operations. Nevertheless, a number of American manufacturing companies, in hope of achieving at least some of the Japanese success in inventory control, quality control and production scheduling, have begun implementing the JIT technique in their own unique production environment. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate implementing JIT in a non-Japanese production environment and to show how JIT can be adapted so that it can have a broader range of applicability, especially under the particular set of conditions that are very likely to exist in many American production environments.

¹Toyota uses a system of cards, called Kanbans, to control inventory and schedule production in their automotive assembly plants.