Cycle Time: definition, types and how to measure

In this post we will talk about what is cycle time, the different types and how to measure them with the ISC advanced software.

Without any doubt, one of the best ways to deeply understand our process is by analyzing the times involved.


To successfully analyze a process it is important to understand three key time concepts: cycle time, takt time and lead time.

This post covers the fist one.

Cycle time is a crucial metrics that may have different terms, depending on who you are talking to.

For example, cycle time may be called production delivery time or process cycle time by some people.

The key is to understand the concept. So, if someone describes the concept you will automatically understand what they mean regardless of the name they give.


By definition, cycle time is the time from the start to the end of the process step.

Cycle time is generally value-added time, but not necessarily.

Typically, there are waste within cycle time. It is crucial to reduce or eliminate all these waste.

However, in most cases less than 10% of the time processes are actually adding value.

Time is a metrics for each individual process, and there are several cycle times within a general production process.

The production rate/pace is determined by takt time and affected by larger cycle times.

So, processes with high cycle time will negatively impact the overall cycle time and will become bottlenecks of the whole process.

This is where lean waste (TIMWOODS) must be taken into account in order to reduce bottlenecks.

takt time vs cycle time

Types of cycle time

In short, cycle time measures the time it takes to do one repetition of a specific task from start to end.

However, the common categories of cycle time are:

  • Manual. The time loading, unloading, flipping/turning parts, adding components to parts while still in the same machine/process.
  • Machine. The processing time of the machine working on a part.
  • Auto. The time a machine runs un-aided (automatically) without manual intervention.
  • Overall. The complete time it takes to produce a single unit. This term is generally used when speaking of a single machine or process.
  • Total. This includes all machines, processes, and classes of cycle time through which a product must pass to become a finished product. This is not Lead Time, but it does help in determining it.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter which type of cycle time is greater. What does really matter is that your total cycle time is lower than your takt time.

Quick & Outstanding Results
DGM has an average of 30% increased performance.

Cycle time and ISC advanced software

This section covers how to define the different types of cycle time using the advanced ISC time and motion study software:

  • DGM focuses on the analysis and optimization of existing machine processes.
  • DGI focuses on the analysis and improvement of existing manual processes.

Both applications provide a very easy and quick way to define cycle times.

Machine cycle times with DGM

  1. In the first place, load your machine process video.
  2. Then, move the video cursor to the frame where the cycle time starts.
  3. From the bottom right Cycles panel, click the Start button.
  4. After that, move the video cursor to the frame where the cycle time ends.
  5. Finally, click the End button from the cycles panel.
  6. Optionally, you can define other machine cycle times. This way, the software compiles statistics about your cycle times like the average, the maximum and minimum and the cycle variation. To check this data, simply click the Calculations View button from the main menu.

Manual cycle times with DGI

  1. Load your manual process video.
  2. Then, move the video cursor to the frame where the manual cycle time begins.
  3. After that, click the Start button from the bottom left panel.
  4. Move the video cursor to the frame where the manual cycle time finishes.
  5. Finally, click the End button from the bottom left panel.
  6. That’s it! The manual cycle time has been successfully defined.

Quick & Outstanding Results
DGI has an average of 20% increased performance.

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