Lead Time

Lead Time (LT) is the total time from whenever any task or job is scheduled, until the time the task or job is completed. It includes lead up activities (planning, scheduling, material accumulation, etc.) along with value-added and non-value-added work activities.

Lead Time, Cycle Time and Process Time

Lead Time, Cycle Time, Process Time Illustration

Another way to think about this is that LT is the total time elapsed from when you know you need to do something, until that something is done. Lead Time, Cycle Time and Value Added Time are ways to describe what is happening inside any process.

For Lean improvement activities, it is often customary to attack the waste (non-value-added) time in any process. This is a short-sighted because the time between Work Scheduled (or known) and Work Started contains significant non-value-added time. This work often involves things like planning, sorting, counting, filing, retrieving, reconciliation, collecting, kitting, etc.

Lead time is the single most effective measure of competitiveness. It describes the velocity of delivering products and services to the consumer and includes the speed and accuracy of all transactions.

The number one rule for improving LT is: No backlog.

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