Impetus to Quality Production — Kanban System

In the Kanban system propounded by Japan, a work center will withdraw the required type and number of output items from the previous work center at a required time. The previous work center will then produce only that many items which have been withdrawn. It may be noted that defective production at any one work center will create chaos in the succeeding work centers, particularly because of the mechanical (physical) nature of the Kanban information system. Therefore, the production of good quality cannot be any better emphasized. Moreover, this system itself reveals such problems immediately and glaringly on the production floor for all to notice. This puts much peer pressure on the defaulter, if the problem of quality is the person producing.

Cooperation of Company Vendors:

To be successful, J-I-T (just in time) needs the cooperation of the company’s vendors. The latter should also participate fully in the J-I-T system and become, so to say, an extension of the company. Otherwise because of the problems in the raw material/bought-out parts supply, the whole ‘conveyor’ of production processes linked with Kanbans may break down. In J-I-T the vendor is not an adversary as in conventional purchasing, rather he is to be viewed by the company as a partner. One does not think of alternative sources and multiple sources of supply rather one thinks in terms of having one good supplier and of developing him. Multiplicity of sources will create confusion under J-I-T. Also note that the J-I-T ‘conveyor’ extends to the vendor plant and therefore the vendor is required to deliver good quality always. There is little time in J-I-T for post mortem analysis or for waiting, and therefore the vendor himself has to take the responsibility for the quality of the goods he is supplying. This is similar to the situation J-I-T where the production worker himself assumes responsibility for the quality he produces and sees to it that no bad quality item ever enters the succeeding process. This is, indeed a totally different philosophy in quality management – very similar to the ‘zero defects’ concept J-I-T, therefore relies much on positive motivation whether it be workers or vendors so that the best of everyone is brought out and a symbiotic relationship is established. The emphasis is on long term relationships, amicable settlement of any points of dispute and cutting down on the mutual belief destroying and constraining bureaucratic lines of communication. The vendor may be given a life time (of the item) contract, perhaps for a number of items with the price negotiations expressing concern for one another’s problems and prospects.

In J-I-T the vendors have to deliver goods to the production line at the required time which may be quite frequently – for instance every 3 or 4 hours. Therefore, it is necessary that the vendors be near the company perhaps in the same town Otherwise, it is physically not possible to deliver so frequently Even so, the transportation costs of very frequent deliveries are high and it may be worthwhile for 3-4 vendors in the area to pool vehicles and make round robin deliveries.

Need for self discipline:

As mentioned earlier, positive human relations is the basic pre-requisite of the J-I-T system. Here, each individual worker is his own boss. The entire j-I-T conveyor is dependent on him. The strength and necessity of this system is discipline or self-discipline and not one that is imposed. The system is quite fragile for an imposition of discipline. The worker produces, paces himself appropriately, checks his own work and ensures zero effectives in his output that is sent to the next process in line. The worker is a whole time partner in the plant’s operations and not just a wage-earner. This kind of thinking should govern the relations between the company and him. This philosophy goes even beyond participative management; what is required is not just equality in the availability of benefits and power but an attachment and a commitment similar to that in a family.