Monday, February 10, 2014

J.I.T. Just doesn't cut it

I remember when working at my "real" job back in the 'burbs, JIT (Just-In-Time) was all the rage.

Materials came in just the second you needed them.  Products shipped out just the second they needed to.  Inventory was kept low to save overhead costs and save space and everything was hunky dory because everything was calculated to the very second/minute/hour/day.

But you know what?  If something - anything - went wrong in that long line last-second logistics, some of those materials didn't make it to our dock in time.  And that meant either we had to work overtime, pay extra for expediting items or have our products ship out behind schedule.  Having been out of the manufacturing industry for almost nine years now, I can't tell you if JIT is still "in" or not, but I'm assuming for behemoth companies like Wal-Mart it's just a fact of doing business.

I understand the theory behind it.  It may work for "competent" companies (ours was a little on the wonky side, and that's being nice), or in situations where there aren't a lot of variables.  But here in my world, JIT just means that someone (usually me) has been slacking.

We've had a bitter cold winter so far and our wood pile has suffered immensely.  We've been lucky the past two winters and didn't go through a lot of wood so I think that made me complacent.  Paul has taken down & limbed more than enough trees to last us several years, but I haven't been out there to cut or split them.  Paul does 99% of the fire wood chores.  He fells them, hauls them, limbs them and cuts them into logs and he had justifiably hoped that I would at least take over splitting and stacking.  And I haven't.  Although in my defense, it is difficult to split wood with a five year old running around you.

Anyways.  We only have a few days worth of seasoned, split & stacked firewood left.  Paul has been working 12 hour shifts since last Sunday because of the weather and had it not let up on Saturday, would still be working.  So this Saturday and Sunday he was outside cutting up logs and I was moving the "good enough" to burn ones to the house.

There is still a lot to be split and hauled.  We won't have to stack much of it because it's going to be used almost on an "as needed" basis.  In our case, JIT firewood is not a good thing.  Actually, I think JIT anything is pretty much crap when running a homestead or a family.

Unfortunately I think that too many people are using this business model to run their lives.  Everyone is trying to cram more and more activities into their lives.  Running here and there with barely a minute to spare.  Cupboards as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's.  Savings neglected in order to buy the newest iPhone.  Because they feel like there will always be time to run to the grocery store, time to save for retirement, time to work on that project, time to spend time with the kids.  And more often than not, that time never comes.  Or, when that time does come, there are no goods on the grocery store shelves, retirement comes but there's no nest egg, and your children have grown and it's too late to take that walk through the woods with little Johnny.

Don't live your lives on a Just-In-Time schedule.  Think ahead to the future.  Prepare for the future.  Prepare for an uncertain future, as best as you can.


  1. See now I wouldn't call your firewood JIT. I mean most of the work has already been done long before. Call it partially finished product?

    You splitting it by hand or have a splitter?

  2. Great reminder for folks who "just don't get it". Being prepared isn't something that anyone should be slacking on. Things can and will go wrong when you least expect it. Being a "prepper" doesn't necessarily mean Doomsday stuff. It just means you can take care of you and your family in uncertain times.

  3. While it's tough to be prepared for everything, I agree that you should be prepared for major things - like major weather events. I count this winter as a major weather event because it has been frigid forever. I don't know how anyone can still be following a JIT schedule - it would have me in hives.

  4. Carolyn,

    We always prepare for weather/mother nature type events because there really is not JIT schedule here in OK. We go from snow, ice, flooding, fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

  5. I never quite understood the JIT business model myself because of the uncertainty of the supply chain. I hope you get that wood split and hauled to the house with plenty of time to spare!

  6. Oh, how wise you are, how wise you be!

    Regarding JIT, it's all fun until somebody gets poked in the eye . . . or one little thing goes kaflooey and that starts the big chain reaction, the domino effect. Most folks unfortunately have no concept of what would happen if the trucks stopped delivering groceries.

    I once heard TV personalities discussing what would happen in a large metropolitan area such as New York City if there were ever some kind of a city-wide sustained power outage. I was left with my jaw hanging open as everyone in the discussion agreed, "Well, that just couldn't happen. I mean this is New York City!" Why they thought as they did, I don't know. But I can guarantee millions of people would be very unprepared.

  7. I agree too- I work with a lot of people who just alwasy think stuff will always be there, when they run out :( We had a big storm coming and people complained later they they ran low on food and gas. Gee, go buy it before the storm! I saw this after hurricane Sandy on the news- miles and miles of cars at the gas station. Really??? Forecast for days ahead- you didn't gas up your car and but extra? Oh well, some have to learn the hard way. I have good reserves of foods, water, stored in various forms- freeze dired, dehydrated, home canned, and frozen. Extra meds, etc...

  8. I have lived under "JIT" most of my working life. When its working management is all happy and smiles while demanding even more product go out the door. Then without warning one supplier rear-ends another supplier and all of a sudden you have a hundred company pile up and all stops. That's when I smile watching all the upper management run around with their hair on fire!
    As for spending time with family and friends and taking care of yourself? Do it now because when you miss that opportunity it never comes around again.

  9. My husband is a truck driver so he's all too familiar with the idiocy of JIT. It's amazing that upper management never figured out how unrealistic this is. He has the same problem with dispatchers that schedule load deliveries based on ideal conditions. But then, maybe they've never been stuck in a traffic jam, LOL

  10. The older I get, the more I see this sort of thing. Some so-called "efficiency expert" comes out with a new method that's not been tested in real-world conditions and everybody and their uncle jumps on. Without thinking it through.

    Lately I've been seeing a lot of stuff about robotics in factories, drones that deliver packages, and cars that will be able to drive themselves. I wonder what people will do for jobs if that happens.

    I remember a time when employers cared about their employees, almost like they were all members of the same family. I haven't seen that attitude in years and years.

    Since I was a young mother, I have been managing a well-stocked pantry and a full freezer. I wouldn't know how to run my home otherwise. Now that Hubs and I are retired, when the weather gets bad we are able to just stay in. Let the others get out there on those slick roads, put their lives and their vehicles at risk. We don't even shovel the driveway. This is Oklahoma, so in most cases it's gone in a few days. If we lived where there is snow-upon-snow, we'd have to do differently, but this works fine for us in our location.

    And I remember when well-organized people did Christmas shopping all year long, picking things up on seasonal clearance sales, or working on crafting something all year long. You wouldn't see THEM spending the night before Thanksgiving in a tent on a frozen sidewalk in front of WMT, no siree. They'd be tucked in their beds, with pies and salads already made and the turkey ready to slip into the oven in the morning.