What is Average Waiting Time?

Definition: Average wait time is a cost accounting term that refers to the amount of time a job is sitting ideal before the order is processed or the machine is setup. Wait time affects both the customer and the manufacturer.

What Does Average Waiting Time Mean?

In a manufacturing setting, not all orders are processed right away. Many times machines need to be set up for specific jobs before the orders can be run and custom parts need to be ordered from outside vendors. This amount of time between when the customer places an order and when the manufacture actually produces the product is often called the wait time.

Management tries to decrease the wait time as much as possible, because customers usually want their orders as soon as possible. Some customers are unwilling to wait at all and will actually buy from another vendor rather than wait. Even though manufacturers try to minimize production wait times as much as possible, there will always be an element of wait time in production.


The average wait time is simply the averages of all the wait times in a product category. For instance, a custom watch manufacturer might have a wait time that ranges from 5 days to 10 days for a model A watch depending on the options. The average wait time for the model A watch is 7.5 days. Some manufacturers that are backlogged with orders charge an expedited fee for customers who want their products made first. Not all customers are willing to pay an extra fee like this, but it allows a few customers to side step the average wait time problem.

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