Using Automation in JIT Processes

Why just-in-time production is a hot trend in apparel production and logistics.

Traditionally, top players in the apparel market function by establishing fashion trends for customers and then supplying retailers with new seasonal attire that are forecasted as the next big trends. 

A new trend, however, is taking the garment market by storm — it’s called just-in-time (JIT), and it’s a proven production tactic across many market sectors. By implementing JIT processes in the apparel industry, key players are changing how both high-end and low-end brands approach their manufacturing and distribution. 

How Do Apparel Companies Implement JIT? 

The traditional supply chain model consists of designing the full range, market forecasting, bulk manufacturing, and distribution. 

With JIT apparel, the typical supply chain model consists of individual piece design, customer-driven demand, small quantity manufacturing, and fulfillment with a faster turnaround from nearby production and distribution facilities. 

In the apparel market sector, fast fashion refers to companies that produce lines that are reactive to trends. Sometimes these designs are inspired by higher-end pieces worn by celebrities, or couture looks from the runway. 

Where high-end design houses look to set trends and cater to a higher bracket of income, fast fashion is tailored towards portions of the general public who desire high fashion looks without breaking their bank accounts. 

Why JIT is Legit

There are benefits to adding JIT manufacturing to your processes. By manufacturing small quantities only, garment producers can adapt to changes and drops in supplies. This allows them to shift course with ease, filling any gaps and reducing risk across their manufacturing process. 

Additionally, manufacturers can turn pieces around from design to production in around 10 to 15 days. With this speed, producers can chase current trends — whether they’re from the red carpet or social media. 

This also allows high end clothing manufacturers to only produce garments when they are ordered — cutting down on costs and reducing loss for high value items. 

Just-in-time reduces manufacturing waste by allowing pieces to be pulled only when necessary for production. For both high-end and fast fashion brands, this is beneficial from a sustainability standpoint, as well as a financial one. 

The core of JIT production is based on the concept of “Sell One, Make one” (SOMO). With JIT/SOMO, both quality and productivity rise. This is because it is a results-oriented approach that allows your team to invest their personal responsibility and commitment into the end result. This personal investment combined with reduced costs, slimmer inventory levels, and improved material flow create a win-win scenario for producers, sellers, and customers. [source: https://www.onlineclothingstudy.com/2016/02/just-in-time-jit-concepts-and-its.html]

SSI SCHAEFER Solutions

Pivoting to JIT for fashion production and distribution requires choosing the right fulfillment solutions. SSI SCHAEFER offers an array of solutions for the apparel market that can take your manufacturing and fulfillment distribution to leaner process. The following are solutions that both fashion retailers and apparel brands are already leveraging:

  • SSI Carrier, 

  • AGVs / Weasel, 

  • Matrix Sortation / Buffering, and 

  • WAMAS Warehouse Management System


If you’re interested in shifting your apparel supply chain to JIT, let’s talk! The automation experts at SSI SCHAEFER are ready to partner with you to create a sustainable solution.  Call 704-944-4500 or fill out our contact form to learn more.