Cycle Time: What Is It and How to Calculate It?

Cycle Time, Lead Time, Takt Time… all terms frequently used in factories, but they often seem quite similar. Therefore, we’d like to explain the differences between Cycle Time, Lead Time, and Takt Time. Additionally, we’ll provide you with a formula to calculate Cycle Time on your own.

Cycle Time Definition: What Is It?

Cycle Time encompasses the exact time required to produce a product or complete a specific process, including the time from the first step in the process to the final step necessary to have the product ready for shipment (to the customer). The time between steps is also included. Being familiar with the Cycle Time is crucial for determining the customer’s lead time and is one of the primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in production. Consequently, Cycle Time is one of the most frequently used statistics in production processes for creating production schedules, optimizing procurement strategies, and budgeting.

Cycle Time is often confused with similar terms like Lead Time and Takt Time. This confusion is understandable since they all belong to Lean methodologies, a system for measuring efficiency, quality, and process optimization. However, these terms cannot be used interchangeably, as each has its own definition and purpose.

Cycle Time vs. Lead Time

Cycle Time is a production-centric perspective, while Lead Time is customer-centric. In other words, Lead Time addresses the waiting time the customer experiences—from the moment of ordering to receiving the product. Lead Time also accounts for the time required to process orders, input orders, and resolve any delays caused by exceeding production capacity. Unlike Cycle Time, which pertains only to production processes and throughput, Lead Time offers valuable insights for improving production logistics and shipping.

Cycle Time vs. Takt Time

Takt Time operates in the opposite direction of Cycle Time. Cycle Time represents the necessary production time, whereas Takt Time indicates the pace at which work must be done to meet customer demand within promised deadlines. The difference between these terms is in the questions they answer: “What can we do?” (Cycle Time) and “What must we do?” (Takt Time). Comparing the calculated Cycle Time and Takt Time is an excellent way to determine whether the current production process can meet customer demand speedily.

Cycle time, lead time

How to Calculate Cycle Time

Calculating Cycle Time is not rocket science. However, it’s essential to establish a clear start time and end time before you begin measuring. If the production team starts the first step at 9:00 AM and completes the last step at 11:30 AM, all time between these two timestamps is part of the product’s Cycle Time. Below, we’ve described the simple formula for Cycle Time:

Cycle Time Formula

The Cycle Time of a product can be calculated using the following formula:

Cycle Time = End time of the production process – start time of the production process

If you’re calculating for a specific quantity of products, you can use the adjusted formula:

Cycle Time = (End time of the production process – start time of the production process) / Number of units produced

Therefore, decide in advance whether you want to calculate the Cycle Time for one product or a specific quantity of products, and use the appropriate formula.

Improving the Production Process?

Want to enhance the production process and reduce Cycle Time? It’s possible! A critical step in achieving this is the digitalization and standardization of the production process. Think of work instructions and checklists that every employee must follow within the production process, as well as autonomous maintenance to optimize the production line’s performance. This prevents delays in the process and maintains consistent high quality. Digitalizing and standardizing process approaches becomes easy and clear with the EZ-GO app. Here, you can easily collect all the necessary data to improve Cycle Time and pass audits without any problems.