The Best Just In Time Inventory Management Software

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Inventory management is both a critical asset and a vital process for businesses around the world. Managing and storing inventory can be a difficult, time-consuming and costly process. As a result, organizations are always on the lookout for management theory alternatives that can help cut inventory-based expenses and improve overall operational efficiency. One such approach is JIT inventory management using a just in time inventory system. With this strategy, inventory managers are able to align raw material supplies and orders in parallel with production.

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Best Just in Time Inventory Systems

What Is Just in Time Inventory Management?

JIT inventory management is a lean methodology specially created for increasing organizational efficiency, decreasing unnecessary expenses related to inventory wastage and ensuring that goods are received only as and when needed.

In order to implement this strategy, several internal as well as external risk factors — like inflation, technology failure, change in policies, high competition, and change in consumer tastes and preferences — need to be considered.

Why the JIT Concept Matters

A just in time inventory system offers numerous benefits to its users. Some of the most prominent benefits are:

  • Reduce Inventory Waste: Overproduction is common but highly undesirable in most businesses. It occurs when a product’s supply is higher than its demand in the market. This leads to unnecessary accumulation of unsalable products or inventory. These products are dead stocks that lead to wastage and take up unnecessary space. Successful implementation of a just in time inventory management system helps ensure that accumulation of unusable products is reduced or eliminated entirely, thus helping cut inventory wastage.
  • Minimize Warehouse Holding Expenses: Maintaining a warehouse is costly and having excess inventory adds up. In fact, reports from logistics management providers suggest that most warehouses measure around 400,000 sq. feet, but the industry is seeing a demand for smaller box facilities, which can be as small as 50,000 sq. feet. With a just in time inventory system in action, goods are ordered only when the consumer makes a purchase. This eliminates the need for stocking up on unnecessary inventory in your warehouse, and in some cases even eliminates the need for having a warehouse altogether.
  • More Control to the Manufacturer: Manufacturers have to stay on their toes to increase or decrease production based on fluctuating market demand. Just in time inventory management gives them greater flexibility and control over the production of necessary and unnecessary items. Additionally, this strategy helps deal with the problem of having unusable inventory in stock, and producers are able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the market quickly.
  • Local Sourcing: In order to carry out an agile production process, local sourcing is best for a business using or planning to implement JIT inventory management. Sourcing inventory locally brings in numerous additional benefits to the business. Inventory orders get delivered much faster to clients with fewer transportation costs.

JIT Inventory Management Benefits

Examples of Successful Implementation

This inventory management strategy originated at Toyota in Japan, and since then the implementation has been yielding successful results. Other popular examples of just in time inventory management systems in action are seen at Apple, Kellogg, Xiaomi, Zara, Tesla and more. Let’s delve a little deeper into the important factors that helped these companies effectively implement just in time inventory systems and how they reaped the benefits of their implementation.

Toyota

In 1970, Toyota introduced and implemented their own JIT-based strategy successfully. That approach is what’s now known as the Toyota Production strategy, which follows the tenets of a just in time inventory management system. In this, the requisite raw materials don’t arrive at its production floor until a customer places an order. Also, while production is in process, no parts or inventory are put in the next station till they are needed. This enables them to keep inventory levels at the bare minimum, resulting in lower costs. To ensure that things keep flowing, they keep small quantities of raw materials at every production station.

Apple

Apple also leverages the benefits of the just in time inventory system strategy in its production process. The tech giant operates through a central warehouse located in the U.S. and has approximately 150 major suppliers around the globe. These key suppliers build and maintain well-strategized relationships with vendors in line. As a result of production outsourcing, Apple is able to reduce overstock and cut down expenses.
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Key Features of a JIT Inventory Management System

For each business, the situations and circumstances in day-to-day operations may vary. For instance, your business may require you to hold or manufacture more inventory than what is actually needed for processing current order requirements. A just in time inventory management system makes it possible for businesses to operate by keeping realistic levels of bare minimum inventory. So, let’s have a look at the key features to see if adopting JIT would be the right step for your business.

Barcode & Tag

Having a barcoding module can help deal with common human errors that are most often a result of manual data entry. Barcode scanning offers quick, reliable solutions and saves significant time that would otherwise have been wasted on entering information manually. It also improves inventory control and keeps track of several aspects like pricing, product details and more.

Inventory Forecasting

Ideally, no one wants to disappoint their present or prospective customers with their products running out of stock. To ensure that such a situation doesn’t occur, it is extremely important to do an accurate inventory forecast. Some of the benefits of inventory forecasting that are worth considering are improving the user experience, building a loyal customer base and helping manufacturers wisely spend resources, as they are in a better position to analyze which inventory to purchase and in what quantity.

Inventory Alerts

Businesses lose a lot of profits due to out-of-stocks, overstocks and returns. However, you can find peace of mind thanks to inventory management software suites that are equipped to handle this challenge with low stock inventory alerts. Also, reliable alerts through SMS or email are sent that notify the user regarding all crucial aspects of the business. These systems can share what inventory is purchased, what leaves the warehouse, shipment statuses, shipment issue alerts and much more in real time, which leads to quick problem solving and improved operational control.

Inventory Security and Backups

Ensuring that your inventory is thoroughly secured is imperative for all businesses. An inventory management solution can help ensure that your inventory is safe, your data is well-protected and it has a complete backup in place. It can also defend against malicious hacking attempts.

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Top Just in Time Inventory Systems

Our analyst team at SelectHub gathered information on the top-performing just in time inventory management software and came up with this list of five contenders and their standout benefits, features and limitations.

TRXio

TRXio is a cloud-based inventory management system that helps businesses of all sizes manage their assets.

TRXio Inventory at Location Report

Inventory records in TRXio.

Standout Benefits and Features

  • Live QR Codes: LiveQR labels individual items with a unique identifier (UID). This offers several benefits, like traceability and visibility, while the product management platform helps users control expenses, obtain and update information, and more.
  • Movement Analytics: The software improves accuracy through its ability to track an item after it’s out of the warehouse. It also provides information on its current location and who currently has it.
  • Auditing: This features lets users verify inventory as well as validate whether all information is entered correctly. Its time-and-date stamp feature maximizes accountability.
  • User Experience: A single location dashboard with drop-down functionality gives users a full view of the entire inventory system.
  • Reporting: TRXio allows users to access information about inventory, projects and products.

Limitations

  • Migrating from other inventory management software solutions to TRXio is difficult.
  • It’s a canned software package. This means that features not in use are still visible to end users, which may complicate its usability.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

SYSPRO ERP

SYSPRO ERP is a cloud and an on-premise ERP software developed for producers and distributors to help them plan, execute, and control product manufacturing. It consists of financial, warehouse and inventory, manufacturing, and distribution management modules.

SYSPRO ERP Inventory Details

Inventory details in SYSPRO ERP.

Standout Benefits and Features

  • Order Management: SYSPRO provides electronic collaboration between product suppliers and their customers. It automates, streamlines and helps manage order-to-delivery procedures with 360-degree visibility into integrated operations.
  • Financial Management: This feature delivers core accounting and financial functionality. It gives detailed insights on factors that affect a company’s financial health.
  • Supply Chain Optimization: The solution optimizes the management of sourcing strategies, helps users evaluate their supplier performance, enables master risk management and maintains control over transportation and logistics.
  • Operations Management: SYSPRO offers ERP software technology to domestic and international manufacturing and distribution businesses. It connects intra-departmental operational processes like quoting and estimating, accounting, sales, inventory, order management, customer relations, material handling and trade promotions.

Limitations

  • SYSPRO doesn’t come with built-in warehouse management capabilities.
  • The system doesn’t support equipment maintenance modules.
  • It does not offer human resources (HR) or payroll modules.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Katana

Katana provides a wide range of features that are important for successful implementation of JIT inventory management systems in an organization. With production based in the cloud, this inventory management solution is ideal for handling inventory management in small and mid-size manufacturing businesses.

Katana Material Data

Production planning in Katana.

Standout Benefits and Features

  • Production Planning: Katana offers drag-and-drop priorities for manufacturing tasks, availability tracking of raw materials, overviews of on-going production in real time and much more.
  • Manufacturing Floor-Level Control: This functionality lets users create a prioritized to-do list for all production individuals and production lines. It also lets users list tasks for all work orders.
  • Real-Time Inventory: This suite helps keep records of up-to-date inventory with updates regarding sales or manufacturing orders when placed. It also modifies information depending on the inventory list or inventory movement.
  • Reorder Points: Katana sets reorder points for purchasing decisions made for all items. It also lets clients know how much more effort needs to be put in to reach their set optimal levels.

Limitations

  • Katana does not have barcode scanner integration functionality.
  • Subscribers do not have access to a bulk editing feature for products.
  • Katana does not come with an API or hook.
  • Order information from Shopify requires rearrangement.
  • It is not equipped to support inventory costing methods like first-in-first-out (FIFO) or last-in-first-out (LIFO).
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

EnterpriseIQ ERP

EnterpriseIQ ERP is an ERP software suite that helps monitor, check, track and communicate organizational and manufacturing actions and information in the supply chain. It offers multiple deployment options, providing businesses with the additional benefit of choice.

EnterpriseIQ ERP Dashboard

Dashboard summarizing key info in EnterpriseIQ ERP.

Standout Benefits and Features

  • Shipping Management: This solution organizes departments, meets requirements and responds to user needs related to shipping. It helps create pick tickets, generate packing slips, print shipping reports and authorize returns.
  • Sales and Order Management: EnterpriseIQ ERP offers a toolset that lets you make and manage sales orders from one screen. The software suite makes it possible to link all sales orders directly to their actual cost source.
  • Financial Management: This is a comprehensive and robust accounting and general office management system that helps manage expenses, receive income, monitor the firm’s cash flow and view cost information. Additionally, the Enterprise IQ financial management solution integrates with all other EnterpriseIQ ERP software solutions.
  • Payroll Processing: This solution runs individual or multi-state, multi-site operations, with multiple deductions that can be pre-defined by the user.
  • Drag and Drop: E-mail communications can be archived using the drag-and-drop feature.

Limitations

  • The software’s asset management module does not comply with GAAP auditing requirements.
  • Its multi-language functionality doesn’t support French effectively.
  • The accounting software has challenges related to invoicing.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

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SAP S/4 HANA

SAP S/4 HANA is an integrated ERP solution that has embedded analytics, industry best practices, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities and much more. It offers financial management, asset management, supply chain management, production planning, contract management and procurement capabilities.

SAP S4 HANA Supplier Evaluation

Supplier evaluation metrics in SAP S/4 HANA.

Standout Benefits and Features

  • Asset Management: This module lets the user plan, schedule and execute maintenance activities for their assets. It also performs both planned and unplanned maintenance activities for operation optimization.
  • Procurement: Information about purchasing spend is available via a thorough analysis of purchase orders, requisitions, invoices, and purchase contracts.
  • Order and Contract Management: This feature lets you manage order-to-cash processes for all touchpoints, including channels, as well as multichannel functions that have role-based access to information in real time.
  • Software Developer Kit: The SDK enables software users to create extensions, vertical solutions and custom applications.
  • Free Trial: The software suite comes with a 14-day free trial, with full capabilities, workflows, the Fiori user experience and role-based guided tours.

Limitations

  • Implementation is a time-consuming process.
  • It is not user-friendly, and an experienced person is required to tackle any issues or challenges faced in the software.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Next Steps

As is often the case, one size does not fit all — not even in the world of software. Not all just in time inventory management systems are suitable for businesses of different sizes, or even in different industries. Therefore, before adapting the JIT strategy, it is crucial to check if it fits for your business.

One of the most important factors you need to keep in mind is that this strategy generally works well with businesses that are agile and have a robust capability to manage extremely short production cycles. So, before you implement it in your production process, make sure you ask yourself a few questions.

  • Is it possible to manufacture or supply my product quickly?
  • Do I have a reliable source of suppliers that I can trust to provide raw materials or products quickly?
  • Is my inventory management system flexible enough to let me update, notify and effectively manage requisite stock levels on-the-go?
  • Am I well aware of the seasonal fluctuations, sales cycle, customer demand and other factors related to my product?
  • Do I have an efficient order fulfillment system that enables me to bring orders to consumers on time?

If you have a positive answer for all or at least most of the above questions, you are likely in a good position to adopt a just in time inventory management system and benefit from it. If not, maybe hold off on adopting one for now.

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Inventory Management Software Pricing Guide

Final Thoughts

A business’s approach to managing its inventory can make quite a difference in its efficiency, customer behavior, growth and profitability in the near future as well as in the long run. Several inventory management systems offer a wide range of benefits. Keep your unique requirements in mind and you’ll be able to figure out which inventory management software works just right for your business. You can use our free comparison report to help you make that perfect choice.

How can implementing a just in time inventory system strengthen your product management processes? Let us know with a comment below!

Aditi PariharThe Best Just In Time Inventory Management Software

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  • Dan Onyema - July 12, 2019 reply

    Good morning Sir,
    This is a good explanation on jit. would appreciate getting lecture notes more of this, including,scm,inventory management,logistics,purchasing and procurement,facility management,project management,analytics supply chain management.

    Thank you

    Hunter Lowe - July 15, 2019 reply

    Thanks for the response Dan! You can always check out some of our other articles on those topics as we research and write about many of them.

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