Traditional manufacturing models can lead to wasted materials, labor, and resources due to outdated inventory control processes. This waste cuts into the manufacturer’s profitability as time and personnel are needed to manage it, and if not adequately controlled, it can seriously undermine the manufacturer’s business. To reduce waste and make their production more efficient, more and more manufacturers turn to the Just in Time (JIT) methodology of inventory control and manufacturing.

At Plethora, we have adopted the JIT inventory management process to align materials with production schedules to produce your products when you need them. Just in Time manufacturing, also known as lean manufacturing, helps shops like Plethora increase productivity while lowering costs. With JIT, manufacturers no longer have to manage surplus inventory or schedule unnecessary work to fulfill production quotas. The Just in Time manufacturing system offers many other benefits, which this page will explain.

The Origins of Just in Time Manufacturing

JIT manufacturing was introduced to Western businesses in the late 1970s after being developed and refined in Japan. Due to the economic climate in Japan following World War II, a lack of cash prevented the usual investment in large inventory production methods that were typical in other countries. To counter these and other problems, Japanese companies pioneered lean manufacturing processes by building smaller factories and rapidly producing smaller volumes of products. One example is the Toyota corporation, which developed its entire production system based on ordering parts in small quantities for short-term production cycles. The JIT production system Toyota used allowed for a reduction of financial risk while slowly generating capital.

One can characterize traditional inventory management systems by the following:

  • Manufacturers keep large quantities of inventory on hand
  • Companies forecast production against predicted customer sales
  • Manufacturers build products in large batch orders to make machines and processes more efficient
  • Large batch orders can result in excessive quantities of finished goods
  • The manufacturer must store the excess finished goods until new sales reduce the stock

These traditional production models consume manufacturing and inventory resources and lead to overstocked warehouses in the hope of supplying future customer demands. Next, we’ll outline how a well-run JIT system differs to contrast.


CNC machining with Just in Time Manufacturing

Just in Time Manufacturing; Process that Produces Benefits

The Just in Time manufacturing system bases itself on fulfilling the customer’s expectations when receiving orders in real-time. JIT simplifies product production for manufacturers by minimizing large inventory levels, which turns the production process into a more efficient operation. How the system works:

  1. Manufacturers keep fewer materials on hand, reducing inventory management
  2. Inventory ordered for new projects occurs as they come in
  3. The manufacturer only builds what the customer wants when requested
  4. Elimination of additional warehousing and material management for surplus inventory, saving time, resources, and expense

The JIT system allows manufacturers to focus their attention on producing the high-quality parts companies pay them for and don’t build up stores of completed products. Through individual job tracking data, the manufacturer can convey precise information about each project, keeping employees informed of what needs doing. Some of the benefits that a manufacturer can expect from using JIT include:

  • Lower inventory management and handling costs
  • Reduced warehousing expenses for inventory and completed product storage
  • Lower lead times for customer orders to flow through the manufacturing process
  • Increased productivity from the elimination of excess work and their associated processes
  • Improved quality as workers focuses on individual projects instead of batch production

By focusing on individual customer orders instead of batch production, manufacturers discover that their employees are more responsive to customer requests. This model leads to greater simplicity and flexibility in the production environment saving the customer time and money. Next, we’ll look at how a machine shop can help with a manufacturer’s JIT processes.

Just in Time Inventory Management in the Machine Shop

The inventory control system, leadership, and staff of a machine shop create a production environment that supports their clients’ JIT initiatives. By building a client’s part requests when they order them and only at the required quantities, the client exercises control over their own inventory levels reducing overhead.

Inventory control and other systems

To effectively control customer orders, inventory, and the manufacturing floor, machine shops must be equipped with the proper tools for system management in a JIT environment. These tools include customer ordering systems, materials purchasing, and production assignments.

At Plethora, we offer advanced online part request and analysis tools to validate a part request’s manufacturability before entering our production system. Once accepted and entered, additional software tools handle the purchasing of materials and scheduling the work.


Just in Time manufacturing defines itself as more than a production system. One could call it “management philosophy.” The leadership of a machine shop must understand the principles of JIT to guide their company through its implementation and execution.

At Plethora, our leadership team recognized the need for servicing our customers with a Just in Time manufacturing system. The system they have implemented has successfully provided on-time delivery of high-quality products to our customers throughout years of service.


A successful Just in Time system relies on well-trained employees committed to the overall JIT process. They understand their unique position in the system and what information they need to complete their jobs successfully. JIT depends on individual workers who see further than the task in front of them and contribute to the process as a whole.

At Plethora, all of our staff understand the critical nature of their jobs and those with whom they work. Teamwork provides our people with the unique ability to work through any difficulties and find solutions in the best interest of our customers.