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Just in time (JIT) manufacturing is a lean production method that involves delivering materials and components only when they are needed for the next step of the production process. This reduces inventory costs, decreases waste, and maximizes efficiency by ensuring that resources are used more effectively. It also reduces the potential for funds to be tied up in warehoused finished goods, as pull manufacturing processes like JIT wait for orders to be placed before building products.

Where JIT works best

By creating a “pull” system instead of a “push” system, manufacturers can work with suppliers to better manage their production schedule and optimize production cycles. Additionally, JIT manufacturing allows for greater flexibility in responding to customer demands with greater speed and accuracy. JIT manufacturing can lower overall costs while increasing quality levels and profits.  The process provides this benefit through careful coordination between suppliers, manufacturers and customers. In this way, just in time manufacturing allows businesses to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing market.

However, JIT manufacturing does have its drawbacks. For example, JIT requires a constant and reliable flow of materials from suppliers. If there are delays or disruptions in the supply chain, production can grind to a halt. Additionally, since production is only scheduled according to customer demand, companies may find themselves unable to meet spikes in demand without having a large buffer of inventory on hand. Finally, because this method of production is linked so closely with inventory management and the supply chain, it can be difficult for businesses to implement quickly and efficiently without significant investment in the necessary resources and personnel. 

Managing JIT with proper software

Given the complexity of JIT manufacturing, businesses must have the right software to support this process. Software designed specifically for managing just-in-time inventory processes should make it easier to keep track of inventory levels and production schedules, provide visibility into supply chain management, and allow for quick response times when there are changes in customer demands or disruptions in the supply chain. Additionally, a good JIT inventory management software should be able to accommodate multiple suppliers, handle large amounts of data quickly and accurately, help predict demand fluctuations and adjust production schedules accordingly, and provide clear insight into lead times and expected delivery dates. 

For small to medium sized manufacturers many of the above features can be found in MRP systems like Aligni and without the complexity and cost of enterprise-level software systems. For instance, Aligni MRP can perform demand forecasting, match inventory levels with production needs through its material shortage reporting and help streamline vendor management with its ActiveQuote system. With these features in place, companies can maintain tight control over their inventory processes without sacrificing efficiency or profit margins.

The JIT manufacturing process is best suited for products with relatively stable demand and short product life cycles. By ensuring that the right materials are always available, manufacturers can quickly respond to customer demands without having to maintain large inventories or unnecessarily store products until they are ready to be shipped. 

Bringing it all together

Just in time manufacturing is an effective way to manage inventory and increase production throughput. Manufacturers can reduce costs while increasing quality levels and profits. This can be done by delivering components only when they are required for the next step of the process. JIT manufacturing allows for greater flexibility in responding to customer demands quickly and accurately. The process achieves this through careful coordination between each link in the supply chain. This method of production also helps businesses remain competitive by driving down costs. All this is done while maintaining high standards of quality. In short, JIT manufacturing is a great tool for managing inventory and improving bottom-line performance.

Looking to implement JIT processes in your manufacturing operation? Start with a software system that can help manage the complexities of pull production. Sign up online with Aligni MRP and get started today!

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