Cycle Time

Posted in Operations and Supply Chain Terms, Total Reads: 2642

Definition: Cycle Time

Cycle Time is the time required to complete a process which occurs (or may not occur) on a recurring basis and involves a set of multiple activities carried out sequentially. In other words, it is a time between the start and end of a process.


Given the challenging nature of business in present era in which customers are highly demanding who expect suppliers and manufactures to be responsive to their demands, minimization of cycle time for various processes plays a crucial role in order to achieve competitive advantage for an organization.


Cycle Time is the characteristics of both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing processes. It is an important consideration during production planning, process design and inventory planning.


Let’s consider an example on cycle time.

Suppose a process requires 5 intermediate sequential tasks to be executed before it is completed. Time required to execute each task is given in the following table.


Time Required


2.0 mins


1.5 mins


2.5 mins


0.5 mins


1.0 mins


If all the tasks are executed on a single machine or if the process is not recurring, the cycle time will be 7.5 minutes (sum of all the task times). However, if the process is recurring and the tasks are carried out on separate machines, cycle time will be 2.5 mins (because of the pipelining of 5 processes at any given time).

Hence, this concludes the definition of Cycle Time along with its overview.

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