This blog post started as a parenthetical comment about cycle time in my last blog post from this morning. But the parenthetical grew out of control and I thought it would only confuse things in that post.
So, hopefully, it’s more clear here as a standalone post. In the last post, I explained that “cycle time” meant:
“Cycle time” is a term that means how long it takes to do a repetitive job each time.
Unfortunately “cycle time” is also used to mean how long it takes to get through an entire process from start to finish. This is confusing, I know. As an Industrial Engineer, I’ll take lumps on behalf of my profession for this poorly chosen terminology (are we to blame?). Some prefer to call this second form of cycle time (end-to-end elapsed time) by an alternative phrase “throughput time” or many in healthcare would call this “turnaround time.”
But the “cycle time” I mean here is the time between a single person (or machine) starting the first piece of work and that person (or machine) starting the second piece of work. Some would call this “operation time” or some other term.
If a doctor, for example, sees six patients per hour, the doctor’s cycle time is 10 minutes per patient. If it takes the patient 60 minutes from arrival to departure, then the “turnaround time” is 60 minutes (see why we don’t want to also call that”cycle
I wish we didn’t have this confusing terminology, where “cycle time” means two things. I’m always havin to ask for clarification about “which” cycle time a person means (although “throughput time” is normally MUCH longer than “cycle time” for an individual operation in a process).
How do address that in your workplace?
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