Global manufacturing supply chains have so many broken and missing links, trying to understand them is like trying to make sense of John Terry's family tree. It has raised the question of what are the best arrangements factories can make to ensure they have the necessary stock in place to feed into production processes. To be clear:
Just-in-Time operations receive inventory only as it is needed for production.
Just-in-Case processes stock up inventories ahead of time.
Justin Bieber is a Canadian genre-melding musician best known for teen-pop and his inability to work a baseball cap.
Supply and management of stock are some of the greatest issues for production managers, not just all over the UK, but globally. Just-in-Time aims to optimise 'the lean method' by reducing wastes in manufacturing, while Just-in-Case prioritises the minimisation of chances of goods running low in stock, or falling behind the production schedule required to fulfil orders on time.
Quite literally, Just-in-Time produces goods upon orders placed, and Just-in-Case literally produces "just in case". Offshoring has been the trend for western manufacturers to source supplies from lower-cost economies, typically China and southeast Asia and eastern Europe. However, times are changing and a survey of members by Make UK, the engineering employers’ federation, found that the supply chain dislocations of the past two years had ended decades of sourcing components offshore. The changes are significant. About three quarters of manufacturers have increased their number of British suppliers, with half saying they would do so in future.
Transport links have become dislocated, container prices rocketed and there is a much increased volatility in the market place. Smart companies have decided to stop relying upon the relative cheapness of foreign suppliers, turning their attention within. One solution is to significantly increase the number of suppliers a company has, so they have more options in the event of disruption. A quarter of British companies now have between 50 and 100, with one seventh saying they have more 200 on their books.
This must be a case of good news-bad news. Good news for smaller, local suppliers who can react fast, organise delivery and build up positive relationships with regional manufacturers. Bad news for importers and foreign distributors.