Don’t Be Late: Simple Lessons That Automotive JIT Inventories Offer Across Industries

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Originally developed by Toyota in the 1970s, just-in-time (JIT) inventories offer a to-the-bone way to manage leaner inventories. Far from having to pay for the storage of unlucrative and often unneeded stock, the JIT shift has certainly transformed the automotive world, a fact that’s proven especially imperative when delays elsewhere threaten to unravel supply chains in their entirety.

In the face of increasing money struggles and productivity delays across industries, the value of JIT, or at least the benefits that it brings to the table, is becoming more universally relevant than ever. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that a repeat model would be right for your business, it certainly highlights the need to reassess inventory management in light of recent challenges. Here, we’re going to help you see how by especially considering the JIT benefits that enabled a swift automotive recovery, and an estimated 7-9% market growth in 2021 alone

Benefit 1: Cost-effective production

With businesses losing vast amounts of money over the past eighteen months and facing further cost setbacks from the need for diversification into online markets etc., it’s fair to say that budgets are tight. As such, piling resources, time, and profits into the development of stock that sits in a warehouse (which you also pay for) simply isn’t viable right now. By comparison, JIT inventory management that involves working more closely with suppliers to meet real-time demand ensures only the production necessary to keep consumers happy. While you might not want to go all out with lean inventories as such, keeping stock to a minimum, and taking the time to more realistically predict demand and output using analytics, can certainly better help to preserve money when you need it the most. 

Benefit 2: Continual quality improvements
The improvements necessary to keep up with an ever-changing landscape can be difficult to implement if you’re still shifting stock that’s been in storage since last November. Leaner inventory management on an as-needed basis is therefore far more receptive to quality improvements. Toyota is certainly a great example of how to adapt, with their latest EV releases being just one in several cutting-edge adjustments seen in Toyota service repair manuals across history. While companies in other sectors may prefer to keep some stock on hand for security purposes, streamlining warehouses and focusing instead on new development could quickly prove imperative in the face of quickly-changing consumer expectations.

Benefit 3: Improved supplier relationships

By encouraging faster turnovers and responsive production for disaster preparedness, JIT inventories also improve supplier relationships. In-the-moment updates and the ability for partners to request changes at the development stage are certainly imperative for automotive supply networks that often span numerous parties and locations. Even for small scale supply networks elsewhere, a more in-the-moment, speedy delivery focus based on the work you’re doing now, rather than parts created two years ago could be transformative. 

JIT inventories aren’t for everyone, but as supply disruptions continue to wreak havoc across industries, it’s certainly plain to see that leaner inventory management offers some important lessons worth learning from.

Space, Place, and Supplies: Ways To Improve Your Warehouse Operations

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The humble warehouse has somewhat been left behind in the modern business world. It seems to get short shrift because it is purely viewed as a storage facility. However, if you want to make your warehouse a far more efficient operation, you need to rethink the entire approach. An efficient warehouse is critical, not just for a business, but it will contribute towards proper customer satisfaction. With this in mind, what does it really take to improve your warehouse efficiency?

Adopting “Lean” Inventory

This is just as important in a warehouse environment as it is in manufacturing. The premise of lean is to get what you need and nothing more. This means that you’ve got to look at what is essential in a very short space of time. When you look at the “cogs” of the warehouse, it boils down to transportation. Forklifts are one of those essentials that keep your warehouse efficient, and this is why you would have to be lean with regard to your forklift mechanics. And while PBM forklift battery chargers and forklift parts are essential, it is vital that we still operate with a lean mindset, because this will help us to not over-order, which clutters up the warehouse, but it also helps in terms of the relationship with our suppliers. If the supplier delivers smaller quantities on a regular basis, it gives us a better opportunity to keep track of the inventory, but it’s also a regular working relationship with external providers. 

Optimizing All the Available Space

One of the biggest problems many warehouses have is they believe they need to expand the footprint of their warehouses, but warehouses are better off making use of vertical space. Taller storage units are a great way to maximize space, and this is where forklifts and similar vehicles become invaluable. It allows you to keep within the same square feet and not add to your bottom line. You should also reconsider your type of stacking, for example, pallet racks will waste space if you store small items on them, so think about different types of shelving for a variety of different materials. 

Better Labor Efficiency

It is important to have a Warehouse Management System (WMS) to improve efficiency, and while this can automate a lot of processes, there are many processes that do not benefit from a WMS. In which case, you will need to create lists manually. You can use your WMS to analyze material usage patterns and improve processes, but you will need human input to streamline operations, especially if you’re trying to eliminate picking delays. 

Utilizing Your Place in the Supply Chain

It is said time and time again that the key to building great relationships is communication. And if you are to improve your warehouse operations, you shouldn’t just think about the internal operations, you need to consider the bigger picture. Warehouses are a crucial part of the supply chain, but this means that if you are to improve your warehouse operations, you must recognize your piece of the puzzle. Once you start to recognize the bigger picture and how you belong to it, it provides that little bit of extra insight.