Is ‘just-in-time’ (JIT) manufacturing dead?

Is just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing dead? We’ll help you breathe new life into your processes and find ways you can save costs and improve cashflow.

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing has been a key model in high-volume manufacturing industries for many decades. But the current supply chain crisis is becoming an increasing challenge for many manufacturers. With JIT manufacturing models reliant on sourcing cheap, globally sourced supplies at short notice, JIT’s days could be numbered.

What is just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing?

First instigated by Toyota in the 1970s, this lean approach to car-building aimed to reduce the waste and over-stocking that was common at the time in the US car industry. The JIT methodology states that parts, components and raw materials should only be ordered or produced once a customer order needs to be fulfilled.

Parts were ordered ‘just in time’ to reduce all non-essential waste and to deliver on the order as effectively as possible. This resulted in:

  • Reduced operational costs and improved cashflow
  • Smaller inventories that could be replenished when needed
  • A more lean and streamlined production process.

Overcoming the big challenges to JIT

A JIT model is lean and efficient – but it can only work if you have a fast and reliable supply chain. Components and raw material MUST arrive quickly, once ordered. If they don’t, you can’t produce the required goods and can’t honour customer orders.

In short, if the supplies don’t arrive in time, a JIT process falls apart. So, how can you overcome this challenge to reduce cost, improve cashflow and streamline production?

These are key changes to action:

  • Review your supply chain and move to local suppliers where possible – International parts and components may be cheaper, but they have to be sourced and delivered over great distances. If you can switch to local suppliers this reduces the problem of a slow and partially broken global supply chain.
  • Reduce your wait times and improve efficiency – with a local supply chain, your parts and components can be ordered and received far more quickly. This overcomes the issue of long wait times and allows your production process to stay on track. Shorter journeys and simplified logistics also help you make your supply chain more lean and efficient – always a key aim of a JIT model.
  • Use automation to streamline your production process – modern digital systems make it easier than ever to create lean systems. Cloud tools and automation all help to reduce inefficiency and boost productivity. Where a process can be automated, automate it and help the business reduce costs, achieve better scale and produce higher volumes with reduced overheads.
  • Be an advocate for a sustainable supply chain – With ordered parts only coming from a short distance, you cut out the need for carbon-emitting plane freight and large container ships. Being more green and sustainable doesn’t directly enhance the JIT production process, but it does help you position and market your brand.
  • Manage customer expectations from the get-go – Give your customers information about longer delivery times and keep them updated so they feel valued.

Talk to us about rejuvenating your production process

When a JIT manufacturing process works well, it gives your company a valuable competitive advantage. Despite the current issues of slow supply chains, high inflation and global geo-political upheaval, there are still ways to innovate.

We’ll help you review and upgrade your supply chain processes, so you have the solid production foundations for creating a JIT process that’s designed for the modern age.

Published : 16 Nov 2022

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