Abandoning JIT Would Be A Mistake, Expert Says

By John S. McClenahen As manufacturers look for ways to better manage their supply chains in the face of terrorism, junking JIT for something such as just-in-case inventory management would be "a major step backwards," believes Robert E. Spekman, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in Charlottesville. Rather, "maybe what it means is instead of carrying 45 minutes of inventory [a manufacturer] carries a day's worth of inventory -- or [you] build in some safety stocks somewhere along the line," he says. But not every manufacturing executive agrees. For example, Pam Lopker, chairman and president of QAD Inc., a Carpinteria, Calif.-based software firm, has quite of different read of the situation and dismisses the notion of building buffer stocks as a post-attack strategy for U.S. manufacturers. "What Sept. 11 did, more than anything, was to accentuate an already bad economy," she says. Manufacturers "are more concerned about managing their cash and managing their finances than they are [about] hoarding inventory."

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