What is Manufacturing Cycle Time?

Definition: Manufacturing cycle time, also called throughput time, is the time period between when product manufacturing begins and the time the product is shipped. In other words, it begins after a customer’s order is placed and the wait time is over and includes the rest of the manufacturing process.

What Does Manufacturing Cycle Time Mean?

What is the definition of manufacturing cycle time? Businesses use throughput timeto measure how long it takes for a company to manufacture a product and get it on its way to the customer. Businesses should delicately balance efficiency and quickness in manufacturing a product and product quality. While an organization will save money if they can minimize their cycle time, the extent of this minimization should be carefully aligned with the strategy of the business and the needs of its customers.

There are four components that go into calculating total manufacturing cycle time. They are: process time, inspection time, move time, and queue time. Those four variables have the following relationship that are calculated in the throughput time formula:

Manufacturing cycle time = Process time + Inspection time + Move time + Queue time

Let’s look at an example.


Brian works as a process specialist at LMO, Inc. He has noted how long different activities in the manufacturing process take to complete. His findings were:

  • 12 days in process
  • 5 days in inspection
  • 2 days in move time
  • 1 day in queue time

What is Brian’s total cycle time?

The total cycle time is the sum of the process time, inspection time, move time, and queue time.

In this case, Brian’s throughput time is 12 days + 5 days + 2 days + 1 day. The sum of these values is 20 days from the time manufacture starts to the time the product is shipped.

Summary Definition

Define Manufacturing Cycle Time: MCT means the amount of time it takes to produce a product and ship it to the customer.