The dangers of JIT

posted: 2013-11-30
The dangers of JIT - Courchevel Enquirer
Its so much easier when its covered in a foot of snow
In many industries there is a workflow term called “Just In Time”. It refers to the delivery of parts only when they are needed. Meaning that large warehouses don’t have to be built on site to hold every conceivable part. Literally a batch of parts will arrive and immediately go to the assembly line. Very efficient but has its drawbacks. For example if a delivery is delayed, for whatever reason, then the assembly line grinds to a halt.

In France, builders (apparently) use the same term when managing le project. If the winter season starts on the 1st of December then that is when the project will be finished, not a day, not a week, not a month before. It tends to cause an ever so slight rush at the end of November. All very laissez-faire.

Of course project managers tend to overlook natures influences, even in a high ski resort in the winter, and think that if the winter season starts on 1st December then that is when it will start snowing, not a day, not a week, not a month before.

For about 7 of the previous 10 Novembers it has snowed well before the resort open. Sometimes it snows a little and melts quickly, sometimes it just keeps snowing (like it is at the moment). Like any normal person would expect in the Alps, in the winter…

As of 10th November and there has been over a foot of snowfall at resort level, the temperature is well below zero and the wind is whipping up the snow into drifts nicely. Walking around town I see unfinished roofs, pavements awaiting tarmac, buildings awaiting facades. Diggers, cement mixers, piles of debris all being buried under natures white blanket.

The shame is for most of the summer these building sites remained mostly dormant, secure in the knowledge that there was no point in starting and finishing early. Not when it can be done Just in time.

But it could be worse. I just read in Sochi, Russia everyone is panicking as there are many projects that still haven’t been finished yet. With the Winter Olympics starting in less than 70 days Mr Putin has cancelled Christmas and told everyone involved, to work around the clock to finish in time. "For you, New Year will be on March 18th." They may even end up in Siberia! Oh wait aren’t they already *….

Maybe the big P would like to project manager the builders in Courchevel next autumn.

*I know Sochi is actually situated in the Caucasus mountains but then the joke wouldn’t work so well.