Harley-Davidson's Just-in-Time (JIT) Journey

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : OPER098 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Operations Management

Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1981- 2011
Organization : Harley-Davidson Motor Company
Pub Date : 2011
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : US
Industry : Automobiles


This case is about the Just-in-Time (JIT) implementation at Harley-Davidson Motor Company (Harley-Davidson), a US-based motorcycle manufacturing company. JIT, a philosophy developed by Japanese companies, aims at reducing inventory and advocates the production of only what is needed when needed and no more. After World War II, Harley-Davidson faced fierce competition from Japanese automobile companies which were able to produce better quality motorcycles at comparatively lower cost. Harley-Davidson visited some of the Japanese companies and found that Japanese companies were following three main practices: employee involvement, use of statistical

process control, and JIT. The company soon realized that in order to beat Japanese competition, it had to implement these practices as well. The company successfully implemented JIT practices and reaped several benefits.

After spectacular growth in the 1990s and the early 2000s, Harley-Davidson again faced hard times from 2007. The case also looks at the challenges faced by the company in the latter part of the first decade of the new millennium, and how it was trying to focus on ‘continuous improvement' in a bid to bring itself back into profits.


To understand Just-in-time philosophy and its importance in reducing overall production cost and enhancing product quality.
To understand how the JIT philosophy requires the alignment of operational strategies to achieve the goal.
To understand the important role of having a stable supplier network for achieving JIT.
To understand that besides the use of statistical techniques in achieving JIT, employees' involvement is equally important.
To discuss the challenges faced by Harley-Davidson since 2007.
To explore operational strategies that Harley-Davidson can adopt to overcome those strategies.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
JIT at Harley-Davidson 3
Benefits Out Of JIT 6
The Road Ahead 8
Exhibits 9


Operations Management, Just in Time (JIT), Supplier Network, Operational Strategies, Statistical Process Control, Employee Involvement, Statistical Operator Control, Inventory Management, Material As Needed (MAN), Continuous Improvement, Supply Chain, Low Cost manufacturing, Harley Davidson, Quality, Japanese Manufacturing

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