The concept of just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing was conceived in the 1950s at Toyota car factories. Over time it has entered logistics and warehouse processes, and today it is a part of “lean” enterprise management philosophy. Economic changes accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed how JIT logistics are organized today.
JIT logistics support intelligent production, with reduced inventories and fewer trucks waiting to be loaded at any one time. Greater efficiency means faster delivery times, which are critical in a competitive market where high quality, a diverse service portfolio, and attractive pricing are not enough to truly distinguish a logistics company. For effective operations, manufacturers need supply chains that work quickly.
The coronacrisis and pandemic-related challenges in global markets have brought about significant changes in the today’s market for transport and logistics solutions. The first of these challenges appeared in China, the epicenter of COVID-19.
“With the outbreak of the pandemic in China, we experienced disruptions in supply chains and the availability of particular goods. The virus highlighted countries’ dependence on imported goods. Consumers had to deal with shortages of basic products like disposable gloves, antibacterial gels, or toilet paper,” comments Daniel Hajduk, Leader of AsstrA Warsaw’s Express Delivery Team.
The pandemic’s spread around the world led to many cases of temporarily suspended production in the automotive, chemical, food, and fabrics industries. Blocked supply routes and trade restrictions made the JIT model practically unworkable, and many manufacturers had no contingency plans. Only those thinking quickly and flexibly were able to respond effectively.
“The coronavirus has highlighted the shortcoming of the JIT approach. When the pandemic disrupted supply liquidity, goods were not able to be delivered on time. Manufacturers were forced to reassess and diversify their plans and determine necessary inventory levels,” adds Daniel Hajduk.
Uncertainty has also been a serious test for pre-pandemic logistics chains. Despite the resurgence of Chinese industry, companies are still facing the challenge of evolving their supply chains. Because timely deliveries are a priority, there has been a shift away from road transport solutions in favor of rail, sea, or air alternatives.
To avoid similar complications in the future, many manufacturers plan to focus on maintaining local inventory, balancing supply and demand, and digitizing their supply chains. Thus, the importance of JIT deliveries and local logistics solutions will increase.
“Now we have a chance to identify and fix gaps in old systems and structures. Across the transport and logistics industry, significant efforts being made to digitize processes and build shared platforms where process participants can share up-to-date information that was often lacking previously,” summarizes Daniel Hajduk.