The Just-in-time philosophy also can be applied to the production of services. We have already discussed some of the elements of the JIT system used u a McDonald’s restaurant. In general, service environments may benefit from JIT systems if their operations are repetitive, have reasonably high volumes, and deal with tangible items such as sandwiches, mail, checks, or bills. In other words, services must involve “manufacturing-like” operations.
Other services involving a high degree of customization, such as hair cutting, can also make use of JIT systems but to a lesser degree-basically utilizing elements of JIT systems in their operations.
The focus of JIT systems is on improving the process; therefore some of the JIT concepts useful for manufacturers are also useful for service providers. These concepts include the following:
- Consistently high quality: Benchmarking, service design, and quality function deployment can be used successfully in service operations. Service employees can be taught the value of providing defect-free services.
- Uniform facility loads: Reservation systems and differential pricing are two ways in which service providers can level the loads on their facilities.
- Standard work methods: In highly repetitive service operations great efficiencies cab be gained by analyzing work methods and standardization improvements for all employees to use. For example, UPS consistently monitors work methods and revises them as necessary to improve service.
- Close supplier ties: Volume services such as fast-food restaurants and mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Kmart require close supplier contacts to ensure frequent, short lead time and high-quality shipments of supplier.
- Flexible work force: The more customized the service, the greater is the need of multiskilled work force. For example, stereo component repair shops require broadly trained personnel who can identify a wide variety of problems and then repair the defective unit. The employees at a sectional center post office have more narrowly defined jobs because of the repetitive nature of the tasks they must perform, and thus they do not have to acquire many alternative skills.
- Automation: Automation can play a big role in providing just-in-time services. For example, banks offer ATMs that provide various bank services on demand 24 hours a day.
- Preventive maintenance: Services that are highly dependent on machinery can make good use of routine preventive maintenance. For example, entertainment services such as Walt Disney World must have dependable people-moving apparatus to accommodate large volumes of customers.
- Pull method of material flows: Services operations where tangible items are processed, such as fast-food restaurants, can utilize the pull method.
- Product focus: Managers of service operations can organize their employees and equipment to provide uniform flows through the system and eliminate wasted employee time.
Source: Operations management: Strategy and Analysis by Krajewski/Ritzman