JIT Manufacturing Fails to be Timely!

I read an article in the March 24th issue of The Wall Street Journal that was titled “Grocers Revamp Inventory Strategies” by Annie Gasparro, Jennifer Smith, Jaewon Kang.  It started like this: “Food sellers in the U.S. spent years making their supply chains efficient. Then a pandemic hit, and the strategy backfired.”

The article was a sobering one for not only the executives at these grocery store chains and food production manufacturers, it was a wake up call to society itself. The run on toilet paper, meat products, hand sanitizer and everything else associated to the apocalypse was snapped up by the masses. I personally found that there was plenty of beer in the fridge so some people had far different priorities then what I deemed important. (We always buy TP in bulk and had plenty for 6 months as well as survival food but hey that’s just me)


So why did this happen?  Let me boil it down as succinctly as I can.  First, food suppliers and grocery chains typically carry 2 months of inventory which is normal usage.  Since this was what people call a Black Swan Event, it was anything but normal consumption. Second, the food industry never planned for a Black Swan Event even though it was plausible and possible.

The change over to Just in Time (JIT) food manufacturing came after the recession of the early 1990’s. In order to relieve inventory pressure and improve profit margins the food industry aimed to produce, ship and stock as few goods as possible to meet demand.  All of these changes resulted in smaller distribution centers which cost less to run and maintain as well as labor needed for all the inventory.  This free capital not tied up in inventory can now be used for investments or other operating costs.

So what does this have to do with the life safety industry? Its a crystal ball into what potentially can happen over the next several months as we get the country back to work. If a project you are working on has slowed down or stopped all together, its just a matter of time before the big banks and GC’s are going to ask you to catch up on lost time.  They still want to meet their due dates and close out their financing loans to avoid penalties.  There is new work to start and profits to be made.

The Smart Move:

If you’re not thinking about your ability to deliver on your projects you should start right away while we have this time to contemplate the possible outcomes.  Like they say in Scouting “Always be Prepared!” Here is a short list of project considerations and deliverables.

  1. Employee Health – Are you at 100% work force
  2. Material Needs – Individual parts or prefabricated
  3. Labor – Number of worker hours needed to catch up
  4. Cash Flow – How to manage through the gap
  5. New Project Starts – Overlapping project schedules

Space Age Electronics has experience in managing critical time lines for needed materials and took steps at the end of 2019 to prepare for business disruptions as well as our business growth.  Call it a hunch or just a timely move, we are well prepared to weather the storm for our customers.

In January of this year SAE installed the latest in fabrication technology with a second Armada Automated Metal Fabrication machine the EML 2515AI with laser cutting and etching capability.  This massive machine is the first of its kind in the U.S. and with our previous Armada machine purchase back in 2015 we have tripled our fabrication capacity over last year.

Machine EML2515

Space Age Electronics has also negotiated a coast to coast distribution agreement with Brooks Equipment headquartered in Charlotte NC. With 17 warehouse locations across the country having all Space Age Electronics standard parts on their shelves, product can now be at a customers door in 24-48hrs, no delays, lower shipping costs the same made in USA great product. Brooks Equipment

SAE_Brooks Team

Top Row L-R: Bob Silva, Bill Williams, Steve Mauro, Kyle Jarvenpaa, Michelle Tressel, Kasey Nelson Bottom Row L-R: Jim Mongeau, Mike Ventola, Bill Crowley, Robert Bell, Joseph Cervantes

Lastly, our NET team and prefabricated solutions have expanded and offer more solution options in any quantity with every manufacturers equipment.  Everything from Elevator Recall & Shunt Trips to Fan/Damper control for smoke control systems. We even customize BDA components, Access Control Cabinets and temporary fire detection systems. All under one roof  and one phone call.

Family Pic Mix

We are well aware of how budgets can be tight and labor scarce. When you need it done right the first time and you don’t have enough man hours or expertise to do it yourself. Consider your partner at Space Age Electronics or Brooks Equipment to fill that need. It’s no longer a matter of if, it’s a matter of when this year you will feel the pinch and be falling behind to meet the pent-up demand.

Check our some of these solutions we’ve done recently. SAE Instagram Site

In closing I’d just like to remind you of this phrase I often say; “There’s never time to do it right but there’s always time to do it twice!”  Let Space Age help you do it right the first time and save the added expense.

  One thought on “JIT Manufacturing Fails to be Timely!

  1. Kasey Nelson
    April 3, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    These are some great points, Mike. I would imagine there will be a lot of jobs coming up in the next year or two where the budgets will be tight; prefab could help a company WIN. Now is a time we might be forced to reflect on how efficient and effective we are with our time.

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