Manufacturing Cycle Time: What It Is and How To Improve It
In most business settings, time is measured by hours and days — how long will it take to receive a proposal, mockup sheet or important presentation. But in the manufacturing world, time is measured in product cycles. From sourcing materials to testing to packaging, how long will it take to get one product from conception to full completion?
That is the essence of manufacturing cycle time.
Not to be confused with lead time, cycle time is how long it takes to complete a unit of product, from the beginning of the manufacturing process until the product is ready to ship. In this article we will detail how to calculate cycle times, and the ways you can improve it in your organization.
How to calculate cycle time
The manufacturing cycle time is different for every organization and every product run, and it’s important to constantly check on this variable to ensure productivity benchmarks are being met. The formula to determine cycle time is actually fairly simple:
Total amount of goods produced / Time of production = Cycle time
Once a baseline is determined, manufacturers can try a number of different things to decrease cycle time and increase profitability.
How to improve cycle time
There are a number of ways that a manufacturer can decrease cycle time, such as:
Streamline production process as a whole
By identifying and eliminating any bottlenecks or inefficiencies during the production process, manufacturers can reduce cycle time by improving the system as a whole.
Take a detailed look at your operations — are there issues associated with the production layout of your floor? Are there certain tasks that could be automated or otherwise simplified? Is there an opportunity for you to implement lean manufacturing principles? Evaluating your operations is a great way to identify inefficiencies in your organization.
The key is to reduce the time required in order to increase overall capacity, all while ensuring that nothing gets missed, as shortcuts can lead to quality control issues and dissatisfied customers.
Improve equipment and systems
Is your equipment up to date? Or are you using outdated machinery and legacy technologies?
The more outdated the equipment a manufacturer works with, the greater opportunity for preventable delays in operation. Take an assessment of physical equipment and the software your businesses utilizes on a daily basis. If you find that your systems are more than five or ten years old, it may be time to set aside profits to update your manufacturing facility.
Invest in employee training
Well-trained employees are more likely to work efficiently, produce high-quality results and create ways to optimize operations.
Develop a culture of employee development and make sure they feel comfortable giving suggestions. Doing so can increase morale — leading to higher retention rates, a growing concern of manufacturers — and improve the quality of operations as a whole. The more high-quality employees a manufacturer has, the more efficient the business will run.
Manufacturers should take an even deeper look at operations, utilizing analytics to alert them to any inefficiencies in the process.
On the surface, production could seem to be running smoothly, but perhaps there is an area of production, for example, that is taking 20% longer than expected. Create and gather data points wherever possible, because you never know what inefficiencies may be lurking under a normal-looking production cycle.
At USC Consulting Group, we can help your manufacturing business decrease manufacturing cycle time and increase efficiency and productivity. Contact us to find out more.