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Applying just‐in‐time principles in the delivery and management of airport terminal buildings

Low Sui Pheng (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Faisal Manzoor Arain (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Calgary, Canada)
Jolene Wong Yan Fang (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 8 July 2011




This study aims to examine how the just‐in‐time (JIT) principles can be adopted for the air travel industry with specific emphasis on the management and operations of terminal buildings in airports.


Three methods were adopted for the empirical part of this study. These included the observational walk‐through, interviews and survey questionnaires conducted in the Changi International Airport in Singapore. The evaluation for JIT application, as part of a larger study, includes the points of arrival and departure, the check‐in hall, immigration area, transit mall, gate lounges, food and beverage outlets, retail shops as well as other management initiatives that strive for continuous improvement. This paper focuses only on the check‐in hall.


Japanese businesses have been able to compete successfully in the world market in recent decades because of their total dedication to quality and productivity issues. This has been made possible in part by the guiding principles of the JIT concept which many Japanese businesses subscribed to. The JIT principles include waste elimination, pull production system, uninterrupted work flow, total quality control, top management commitment, employee involvement, long term working relationships with suppliers and continuous improvement. The JIT concept was specifically examined in this study in the context of the Changi International Airport through its planning processes and existing operations. The study was able to highlight the strengths as well as areas for potential improvements in the airport through the application of the seven JIT principles.

Practical implications

Beyond Japanese businesses, the JIT concept was also found to have benefited organizations in a wide range of industries including those relating to the built environment. The study covers major processes and procedures typical of the spatial management and operations of major airport terminal buildings which holds promising lessons for airport management worldwide.


The analysis shows significant potential in applying JIT principles for managing airport operations within the confines of the physical airport terminal buildings. It recommends that designers, project managers and asset managers should progress beyond the traditional “design follows functions” approach to adopt the more integrative “design follows JIT‐driven functions” approach.



Sui Pheng, L., Manzoor Arain, F. and Wong Yan Fang, J. (2011), "Applying just‐in‐time principles in the delivery and management of airport terminal buildings", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 104-121.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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