The application of ‘just in time’ to reverse logistics: a feasibility study from the UK multiple retail sector

Michael Morley, Graeme Heron, David Oglethorpe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of the research is to assess the operational feasibility of applying just in time (JIT) practices to a UK multiple retailers’ reverse logistics (RL) function for waste packaging materials, whilst also assessing possible benefits which may be derived from such an application. Research Approach: The research adopts an embedded case study approach, which included multiple analyses at different nodes of the retail and distribution operational units within the organisation. Interviews were undertaken which allowed for the creation of a narrative outlining the organisation’s operating environments and RL function dynamics, this was then compared to key JIT success factors. Findings: At the functional level there are a number of attributes within the case organisation which would positively influence the adoption of JIT processes, given their relationship with critical success factors outlined within the literature. It is also observed that where negative relationships do exist, they are mainly attitudinal in nature and thus through process reengineering and appropriate training could be averted. On balance the findings indicate that with minimal restructuring and investment the case organisation would be capable of supporting JIT processes. Possible implications of a successful JIT implementation are also discussed. These suggest that although duplicate movement within the network may occur, there would also be efficiency increases in both forward and reverse operations allowing for significant savings. Practical Impact: A new process model is proposed for the case organisations forward and reverse operations which incorporates JITP elements into the RL function. This creates a new just in time reverse logistics (JITRL) environment where collection activities are removed from forward operations, resulting in possible cost savings for the overall distribution network derived from increased efficiencies and capital expenditure. Originality: The research presented provides a unique and novel approach to the application of JIT systems, not only showing that it is possible in operational contexts, but also that JITRL systems may offer significant benefits beyond this organisation, to distribution networks in operations within a similar environment to that of the case organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event18th Annual LRN Annual Conference and PhD Workshop 2013 - Aston University, Birmingham
Duration: 1 Jan 2013 → …


Conference18th Annual LRN Annual Conference and PhD Workshop 2013
Period1/01/13 → …
Internet address


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