True Just in Time (JIT) Concept and Its Application in Apparel Business

Whether you’re a lean enthusiast or not, JIT is a concept pretty much everybody is aware of and probably practicing in the workplace. Just in time is also known as Toyota Production System, short cycle time, demand flow manufacturing. As the name implies just in time simply means getting things when they need.

What are the advantages of getting things when they need them?
  1. Money available to use for other pressing issues or investments
  2. Less interest or bank charges to pay
  3. Not necessary to have large storage
  4. Less damage and quality problems
  5. Ability to avoid duplicate work

Advantages of JIT

Let’s look at each advantage using an example. A great example to discuss the importance of JIT in Apparel Industry is fabric. In most of the garment costings, 60% to 70% of the cost goes for the materials. Apart from the cost of the materials, the fabric is responsible for various other direct and indirect costs. Those are,
  • Cost of the fabric
  • Transportation
  • Inventory (Storage)
  • Inspection (Labour)
  • Bank charges (L/C or TT charges)

    Fabric checking machine
    Fabric checking
  • Interest payment
Now let’s say we have an order of 100,00 pieces of shirts and fabric consumption is 1 yard per garment. We need 100,000 yards. Buyer requesting 4 staggered deliveries of 25,000 pieces per month. Our expected line output per day is 500 pieces and the factory manager planning to use 2 lines.
Fabric store

Essentially factory planner fits the monthly required qty into two lines and it fits the time and action calendar.

Production merchandisers place the order with a mill and discuss the delivery plan. Now this is where the factory has to be smart. Fabric Mill would want to send the total 100,000 yds as soon as possible and collect the money as 100,000 yds is not that of a big order for most of the mills. Also they do not have any incentive to store the goods. Sooner they get the goods out of the warehouse, sooner they could collect the money.

However, production merchandiser of the factory should not get intimidated by the mill.

After discussing with the store manager and the factory manager, merchandisers have to determine how many days prior to production they need the goods in-house. Generally, 5 to 10 days is the maximum. L/C should be opened for the total amount to avoid duplication of charges but only release funds for each delivery so the factory would not incur unnecessary interest. 

The factory fabric manager has to communicate with the relevant quality manager/ checker of the mill and get the inspection reports before shipping each consignment to be aware of all the issues the mill found during the inspection. If the damage percentage is high factory could get the mill to do the necessary re-inspections and ensure good quality fabrics are shipped avoiding unnecessary delays and expenses.

Warehouse managers in the factory do not have to allocate extra manpower to receive the fabric and stock it as only the required potion is coming to the warehouse.

In my opinion no need to do a fabric inspection once fabric arrives from the mill (Typically most factories check 10% of the received quantity using the 4-point method). In my opinion, this is a waste. This day and age there are no time to check and checking actually do not help the production anyway. If the damage percentage is high, mill will send replacement fabric. Its advisable to relax the fabric(If knit) and cut straightway. Since fabric manager already done the due diligence and gone through the inspection reports, chances are finding damages are slim.

I do understand this might not be the case involving certain mills as they may not necessarily show the actual picture of the finished fabric. but building a relationship with the mills and encouraging to discuss the real situation of the production is important to both mill and the factory. 

How JIT helps to reduce damages

Another major advantage of just-in-time is it actually reduces the amount of damage. This happens in several stages.

When the fabric comes in several deliveries, initial deliveries have already been used so based on the feedback mill could make adjustments and ensure good fabric is delivered

Since factories do not have to stock large quantities of fabric in the warehouse, damages occur due to pests, and wrong storage practices are minimized.

As fabrics are arriving when really needed for production, factory managers and executives are not able to bypass the system and produce garments that are not needed for the current deliveries. While this is stopping waste, it also ensures garments with damages are not produced and stored for future delivery.

Updated on: 4 March 2024
Posted on 15th Sept 2016

Charm Rammandala

Dr. Charm Rammandala currently works as the Sustainable Program Manager at Apple Inc. USA. He has over 20 years of international management experience and previously contributed his expertise at Tesla, George Sourcing, and Vomax LLC.

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