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Just-in-case is a play on words of just-in-time manufacturing. Contingencies are one of the main reasons why people do many of the non-Lean activities that hurt an organization.

  • Holding inventory just-in-case a shipment is late
  • Batching some extra just-in-case there is a problem
  • Buying an extra machine just-in-case it breaks down
  • Having a big safety stock just-in-case there is a quality problem

The behaviors in the list above are understandable, and even appropriate, if the underlying conditions don’t change. Just-in-time manufacturing addresses the underlying reasons, so that the behaviors are no longer appropriate. When quality rises, there is no need for as much safety stock. If the root causes of problems are resolved, then the extra stock is unnecessary.

The key to Lean production is to continuously identify any of the reasons that prevent a single piece of work from flowing seamlessly through a production process and solving the underlying problems.

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