The Value of JIT and VMI for Windows and Doors Brands

May 6, 2020

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In the current market landscape, it’s never been more critical to streamline costs and enhance efficiency. One often overlooked area for cost savings is the packaging supply chain--an area that also poses unique challenges for windows and doors brands. From managing many SKUs to overcoming skilled labor shortages, Just in Time (JIT) and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) could be the key to unlocking new levels of efficiency for your windows and doors business.

Here’s a quick primer to help you navigate, and make the most of, JIT and VMI programs. 

What are JIT and VMI programs?

VMI and JIT programs are closely related. In VMI programs, brands partner with an outside company, which then handles the entire inventory management process. VMI programs are ideal for windows and doors companies that are facing cash flow issues, shipping delays and excess inventory. Given the complexity of forecasting and managing order volumes—and the tendency for cash flow to get tied up in inventory—VMI programs are gaining popularity among many budget-minded brands. These programs can be especially useful for managing inventory that features numerous SKUs and custom-sized products.

JIT programs are often featured as part of an overall VMI program. When you enroll in a JIT program, a partner holds your inventory, manages it and sends just the amount that is needed, typically over a span of 60 days. (Check out other blog posts we’ve written about JIT programs and VMI programs.)

If your windows and doors brand hasn’t yet considered JIT or VMI, here are a few reasons to give these inventory programs a closer look.

Streamlining inventory amid seasonality

In Window+Door’s 2019 Industry Pulse, a majority of manufacturers reported an increase in units shipped between 2017 and 2018. With increased demand comes the need to manage it. There’s tremendous value in applying lean methodologies not only to manufacturing, but also to the packaging supply chain, which must adjust to fluctuating levels of demand. 

As any windows and doors brand will tell you, demand is closely tied to seasonality. Production typically picks up in the early spring and summer, with the biggest spike coming in the fall. In the autumn, some brands experience a 25% to 50% increase in manufacturing demand—a situation that either lets your well-oiled inventory process shine or quickly exposes inefficiencies. 

Whether it’s peak season or a quieter time in the cycle, effective JIT and VMI programs help brands free up cash flow and streamline the efficiency of their inventory process. Using a single partner to handle both packaging and inventory provides even more opportunities for enhancing efficiency and optimizing costs. In a manufacturing landscape where lean methodologies will continue to dominate, JIT and VMI offer a golden opportunity to apply those same principles to inventory management--an overlooked area ripe for streamlining. A skilled JIT or VMI partner will have the expertise needed to optimize your inventory every step of the way.

Closing the skilled labor gap

Like many companies, windows and doors brands have suffered from a shortage of skilled labor. To bridge the gap, companies have come up with ingenuitive solutions ranging from apprentice programs to smart factories and digital manufacturing. Another way to minimize the effects of the labor gap is to ensure your skilled team members are performing critical tasks--not sitting in frustration as they try to manage the complexities of packing, shipping and inventory. 

By embracing a JIT or VMI program, windows and doors brands can focus on their core competencies while their trusted packaging supply chain partner handles what it does best. At Victory Packaging, we understand the unique needs of windows and doors brands, and we reflect that in our customized JIT and VMI programs. Our customers focus on the most critical manufacturing tasks while our packaging solutions experts manage every detail of their inventory.

Managing SKUs and mitigating product damage

Given the custom sizing of many products, windows and doors brands typically have a significant library of SKUs. Without proper inventory forecasting, this mountain of SKUs can quickly become a mountain of physical products taking up warehouse space--and, in many cases, killing cash flow. Adding to the complexity is the tendency for glass windows and doors to get damaged on their way from the factory to the customer. By choosing a JIT or VMI partner with expertise across the packaging supply chain, windows and doors brands are uniquely positioned to avoid these costly issues.

At Victory Packaging, we support our JIT and VMI customers with our full range of customized packaging solutions. Our VMI programs are designed to optimize costs across the total packaging supply chain. We analyze complex metrics such as floor stock, lead-time and usage. Then, we employ the model that delivers the best solution for their needs. We also provide warehousing, and step in to optimize our customers’ packaging--often applying key insights from our expert packaging engineers to design solutions that reduce damage. Combined, our packaging and supply chain solutions ensure windows and doors arrive at the customer’s location without delays or damage.

Are you ready to enhance efficiency and optimize costs through JIT or VMI programs? Our Architects of Packaging Solutions are ready to help. Too little cash flow. Too much inventory. Product damage. Mis-used resources. Let’s talk about your brand’s inventory challenges and design a program to solve them.

Topics: fulfillment, packaging solutions, JIT