Revisiting Just-in-Time Delivery

Revisiting Just-in-Time Delivery

The concept of just-in-time delivery is essentially having ZERO stock on hand, ordering it when when you need it.

just-in-time delivery
Peter’s Ice Cream van with people buying ice-cream, photo by Commercial Photographic Co., c. 1937-8, Harold Paynting Collection via State Library Victoria

In 2015, when I was long-term unemployed, I wrote a post about developing the virtue of Wealth. Essentially, it involved:

  • Diversifying income streams to keep some money coming in.
  • Decreasing expenditure to stop money going out, e.g.:
    • Lean shopping methodology; systematically reduce waste by not buying more than needed.
    • Just-in-time-delivery; don’t buy stuff until it’s needed.
    • Budget (or as I call them, spending plans).

But, times are changing…

In the good old pre-Covid days, it was possible to buy as and when you needed stuff.


Many of our goods are manufactured overseas in emerging economies.

Getting goods from there to here has been proving more difficult.

And from freight terminals to cities to warehouses to shops.

And then getting to the shops yourself.

Well, it just seems like buying stuff is getting harder and harder.

A new version of just-in-time delivery

So a recent essay by Flavio Macau got me thinking again; about the supply v demand side of things.

According to Macau, shortages over the last two years were demand driven; shoppers buying goods they needed to get through the Alpha and Delta strain lockdowns.

This time, the rapid spread of Omicron is affecting the supply side of the equation – less than half the logistics workforce is well enoug to work – and this puts the just-in-time strategy in a difficult position.

Macau’s (Australian) research over the last couple of years indicates supermarket supply has generally been restored within three weeks. So, he suggests working out what your essentials are, (e.g., mince, pasta, rice, flour, beans, toilet paper), then buying three weeks worth.

And perhaps, to make this your new, standard just-in-time delivery.

Just always have enough so you can have peace of mind next time.

Flavio Macau

Mrs Frederick would probably agree, always assuming you had the space to store it.

What are my essentials?

So putting on my purchasing agent hat, I’ve calculated (on average), we use about 250 g of ground coffee each week, and I have space to store three packets, so that’s fine.

Clever girl eats about 1 kg of chicken wings and 1 kg mince each week; though given some supermarkets are limiting purchases, I’ll have to stock her up over time. Luckily, a bag of dog biscuits lasts for months, so maybe just one bag spare. (I have no desire to see how cranky she gets when we run out of dog food.)

Though I’m not sure I want 12 litres of milk, three loaves of bread, or two dozen bread rolls cluttering up the freezer.

And not to be forgetting an extra month’s supply of drugs.

As for the rest, I’ll have to monitor usage…

As for the rest of it, I think my old fashioned budgeting (starting with income not outgoings) still stands. And as I’m watching the ongoing politcal debate, I think we all need to make better purchasing decisions (by thinking about the impacts on others, quality, price and value) as well.

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