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A system popularized by many Japanese manufacturers beginning with Toyota in the 1950s, just-in-time systems (also referred to as JIT or Toyota Production System) are a system of manufacturing in which you have just enough inventory on hand to complete a small order of any given product, without any excess inventory or an abundance of leftover parts.


JIT systems aren’t perfect for every industry, but they do bring with them their very own set of benefits and challenges to any factory owner who wants to implement just-in-time manufacturing into their facility or workflow. If you’re considering a just-in-time system, or if you just want to learn more about them, here’s a few things you need to know right off the bat:



  • Reduces Waste: At its core, JIT is a philosophy of waste elimination. By only keeping on-hand inventories of what is needed in the immediate short term to manufacture a set order of products, the amount of leftover parts or unused components is drastically reduced which leads to less money being spent on components and fewer parts being thrown away.
  • Reduces Inventory & Overhead: Not only does it save money on parts and supplies, JIT manufacturing also means that the only items being manufactured are items that have already been ordered, in the quantity they’re ordered, thus reducing excess inventory and the overall cost of production. These savings can begin to add up over a much shorter period of time than other waste-reduction practices.
  • Meeting Customer Needs & Changing Trends: JIT manufacturing means you’re better able to keep up with changing trends and customer demand than you would be with more long-term production methods. By only manufacturing what is ordered, and only keeping enough parts around to meet those orders, you can change your inventory and parts-on-hand to keep up when your customers begin ordering different items or when the market begins to favor certain products over others.



  • Retrofitting Facilities: If your factory or warehouse was not originally built with JIT systems in mind, there might be a lot of work involved to meet the change in production method. New wire shelving and industrial storage may have to be set up right by the loading docks to compensate for the differences in part shipments, and your on-hand equipment and staffing levels may have to be modified to meet the new short-term manufacturing standards.
  • Too Little Inventory: As a counterpoint to one of the advantages listed above, JIT manufacturing does bring the risk of being caught short-handed. If initial orders are too small and demand ramps up unexpectedly, you might be left scrambling to keep up with the influx of demand which could lead to unhappy customers.
  • Unexpected Problems: By only maintaining enough inventory to meet each individual order, any sort of disruption in the supply chain could cause much bigger problems than if you had more on-hand inventory. Any sort of delay from the supplier, weather-related issues, or even unexpected massive orders could greatly compromise your ability to keep up with demand and supply the products your customers need.

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