How to Calculate Cycle Time Value Stream

by Steve Brachmann, studioD

Following best practices within an industry can help ensure that your manufacturing company operates on a level playing field. But analyzing your work processes regularly can help you identify ways your business can get ahead. One way to start eliminating internal waste is by calculating the cycle time of different value streams. Each value stream represents a different product manufactured by a company.

Map out the value stream for the manufacturing process you want to analyze. A value stream map is a type of flow chart that indicates each step of the manufacturing process from beginning to end. Different entries on a value stream map indicate when inventory is received, among other things. This map can be drawn with a pen and paper. Consult with supervisory staff to ensure that every step in the value stream has been accounted for.

Calculate the cycle time for each specific task occurring within the value stream. Cycle time refers to the amount of time needed to complete a specific task. For example, if welding work for a manufacturing process takes 30 minutes, the cycle time for that step in the value stream is half an hour. If welding happens at multiple steps in the value stream, calculate the cycle time of each welding session separately to maintain the flow of the value stream map.

Add the cycle time of each step in the value stream map. This will bring you the total cycle time of the value stream for the entire manufacturing process -- from raw material to shipping the finished product.


  • You can use the work you have completed in calculating the cycle time of the value stream to improve the value of your manufacturing process. Identify each step in the value stream that does not immediately add value, which can include assembly setup, test inspections or any other step that doesn't add value. Reducing the time spent on these steps can increase your cycle time for the entire stream, and add more value to the process.
  • Pictorial representations of different steps in a value stream will help employees better understand the manufacturing process. You can purchase value stream mapping software to help create pictorial maps of a value stream that can be easily printed and distributed.

About the Author

Steve Brachmann has been working professionally as a freelance writer since 2007. Hailing from Angola, N.Y., his work has been published in "The Buffalo News," SUNY-Fredonia's "The Leader" and on various websites. He is currently attending the State University of New York-Fredonia to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting with a communication minor.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images