Just-in-time (also known as JIT) is an inventory management method commonly used by manufacturing facilities in which goods are scheduled to arrive at the exact time they’ll be unloaded. This means drivers take the trailer directly to the unloading dock. The JIT approach saves on labor costs, decreases detention spend and more. But JIT also requires precise orchestration, which can be difficult in an ever-changing environment like a manufacturing facility.
While JIT operations are commonplace, the practice became even more difficult in the wake of COVID-19. According to Debbie Fogel-Monnissen, CFO of the Institute for Supply Management, “The pandemic caused rapid changes in demand and supply — a shock to the global supply chain ecosystem that threw the prior equilibrium out of balance. Just-in-time by its nature requires some predictability, and the pandemic interrupted that cycle.”
Haunted by images of depleted shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other critical items, not to mention sky-high detention fees during the height of the pandemic, many organizations have recently taken a second look at JIT.
So how can organizations come out stronger? How can they foolproof their JIT efforts? In order to maximize the benefits of JIT, it’s important to maintain a tidy, well-oiled operation.
A necessary tool in the arsenal of any efficient JIT operation is a yard management system equipped with appointment management. Many times, appointment management systems are glorified spreadsheets, and this is where most organizations fall short. In those systems, the data is outdated almost immediately after being entered into it, and bare-bones or nonexistent reporting makes continued performance improvement an arduous and manual task.
For the best results, it’s important that the YMS and appointment management platform are integrated, so that they can feed information back and forth and keep track of real-time changes to appointments. Integrated, real-time in-transit visibility means dock teams and gate personnel can view accurate trailer arrival times without the need for time-consuming and error-prone human intervention. Moreover, when warehouse operations teams are informed of real-time updates, they can shift resources to other important tasks and prepare proactively for trailer arrivals.
Once a trailer enters the yard, it’s critical to maintain visibility all the way to the dock. For JIT to work, organizations need to be able to plan accurately for inventory in every facility. But without the ability to view real-time inventory on the lot, this is impossible. With a modern yard management system like FourKites’ Dynamic Yard platform, organizations can keep up-to-the-minute records of what’s in the facility. Dynamic Yard automatically captures data as workflows are being performed and as inventory makes its way through the facility, enabling facility teams to turn data into actionable information. It provides users with a control panel for their docks, along with an unprecedented live screen to a variety of crucial information, including:
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Toyota introduced the concept of JIT with the promise of eliminating wasted resources across their facilities. But the truth is that without the proper technology, just-in-time can be difficult to achieve, and even harder to optimize. Our teams at FourKites have many years of experience enabling the most effective JIT operations in the country. For further information on how Dynamic Yard can get you there, please contact us.