Posted August 12, 2021

Advantages of Just in Time Manufacturing: On-demand Inventory to Speed Up Production

Raw material inventory control is one of the advantages of just in time manufacturing

With the introduction of mechanized production methods during the industrial revolution, manufacturing has grown to today’s assembly-line processes in use around the world. These traditional methods rely on significant inventory levels to create products in bulk for sales and distribution. However, these processes can generate a lot of waste in time, inventory, labor, and ultimately, profit. What follows includes resolutions for many of these problems by implementing Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing for more efficient production.

Problems with Traditional Manufacturing Models

Industrial manufacturing has traditionally relied on predicting what the customer will want and building to those projections. Products are produced in bulk to make the most efficient use of labor and equipment, resulting in extensive inventories of work-in-progress and completed goods. However, this process can create several problems for inventory control and production.

Inventory problems

Traditional manufacturing requires large quantities of raw materials to feed production continually. This process demands additional capital up-front for material purchases and increased resources for inventory control and storage. The completed products will also need management and storage before sales and distribution on the back end of production, requiring additional inventory control resources.

Production problems

To adequately cover market projections, traditional manufacturing will produce and even over-produce for predicted needs. This extra production often requires additional staff and equipment, creating a scenario where labor builds products for a quota instead of specific customers or their needs. This method results in a lack of personal attachment and attention to detail, affecting the overall quality of the finished product.

This cycle of building to market predictions can fail if the needs of the market shift unexpectedly. Manufacturers will have too much inventory of completed products that they can’t sell—ultimately wasting the labor and raw materials used in their production. Just-in-time manufacturing can prevent worst-case scenarios like these.

The Advantages of Just in Time Manufacturing

Although many individuals and corporations contributed to the just-in-time method of inventory control and manufacturing management, most credit its conception to Toyota. Resources in Japan after World War II were scarce, so it was difficult for corporations to invest large amounts of capital in production as required by the more traditional manufacturing methods. During a visit to America, the Toyota management team was inspired by what they saw at a supermarket, where only the purchased inventory was reordered and restocked on the shelves. This restocking kept the supermarket’s inventory manageable, and the Toyota team took that concept back to Japan and applied it to their automotive manufacturing.

The system they came up with would later be known as Just in Time manufacturing, which aims to produce what the customer wants when they want it instead of working from market predictions. The JIT philosophy allows manufacturers to concentrate their resources on fulfilling only what customers have paid for instead of building large stock quantities. This system helped Japanese companies to slowly but steadily increase their capital as they rebuilt their economy. Eventually, the Japanese corporations shared the Just in Time management methodology with western manufacturers in the 1970s.

Just in Time manufacturing can help a manufacturer by providing the following benefits:

  • Reducing the amount of inventory on hand and lessening the need for material management and warehousing.
  • Reducing production overhead and managing and storing completed goods by manufacturing only those products ordered by the customer.
  • Reducing excessive manufacturing, labor, materials, and inventory waste, creating a more productive operation.
  • Employees become individual contributors to their customer’s success and, therefore, more quality conscious than building towards production quota.
  • Basing profitability on actual production orders instead of projected market needs, providing a more stable financial outlook.

With minimized inventory and production, JIT makes for a more efficient manufacturing environment, perfect for a machine shop and its customers.

How a JIT Configured Machine Shop Helps its Customers

Just-in-time manufacturing aims to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and provide a higher quality product. This philosophy fits exceptionally well in the manufacturing processes of a machine shop. For instance, while the shop will carry some common stock materials for quick-turn orders, they rely on carefully cultivated business relationships with their suppliers to expedite materials delivery. This process reduces their on-hand inventory and the need for additional resources to manage and store the excess.

Many machine shops also feature advanced online tools for part requests and manufacturability analysis. By simply uploading your CAD model, the machine shop’s online tools will complete their analysis within seconds, saving days of waiting for a more traditional manual design review. This tool increases the efficiency of ordering parts by immediately queuing up the part for processing and preparing the data for the CNC machines on the production floor.

At Plethora, we embrace the efficiency of the just-in-time manufacturing methodology. We are pleased to put JIT into practice to ensure quality, time, and cost-efficiency. We are ISO 9001 certified, supporting our primary goal of manufacturing parts to the highest standards. Our online DFM and quoting systems are ready to receive your data so we can begin working with you on your next project. To get started, upload your design files to Quote My Part or call us at 415-726-2256.

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The Plethora Team

The Plethora team is your go-to CNC manufacturer for hardware done right the first time. We have the tools and experience needed to create high quality custom parts quickly and with precision, whether you need a prototype or production run.

Topics: materials, Design, Manufacturing, finishing, CNC machining, Quality, Prototyping