World Class Numbers?


    Blog reader Darrin wrote and asked:

    Do you have any up-to-date sources for “word-class” numbers for lean metrics like % of Leadtime that is wasted, % yields, etc.?

    I know I've seen numbers for benchmark “% value added time”, etc. but don't have the numbers ready, nor am I sure if the numbers are current. A google search turned up nothing but firms willing to do benchmarking studies.

    Does anyone have any ready references (from lean books, articles, journals, etc.)?

    Thanks for compensating for my laziness!

    I've never fixated on the benchmark numbers, since I've always tried to set the bar against perfection, or as close as we can get. I know nobody fully eliminates non-value added time completely, but you can get it pretty low. In each of my lean endeavors, we always try to estimate where we can get based on our particular process and our analysis of the current state and expected improvements.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. Darrin and others,
      My consulting firm (George Group) has collected benchmark #s from over 100 companies for Process Cycle Efficiency. We define PCE as Customer Value Add time / Process Cycle Time. We consider the following levels best-in-class for various operations.

      Machining 20%
      Fabrication 25%
      Batch Assembly 35%
      1piece Assembly 80%
      Transactional 50%
      Creative/Cognitive 25%

      You can imagine that most real-life operations fall far short of these marks. We also offer some initial PCE goals for those just starting on their lean journey.

      Machining 1%
      Fabrication 10%
      Batch Assembly 15%
      1piece Assembly 30%
      Transactional 10%
      Creative/Cognitive 5%

      Combining different types of operations typically takes you toward the lowest set of numbers, but I am basing that on personal instinct vs. real data. Last exhaustive VSA I did was comprised of mostly continuous processes (PCE ~80%), but when you looked across the 8 major operations, total PCE was only 5%!

      Hope this helps. Would love to hear some more numbers…

    2. Thank you, JP. THose are some very interesting numbers- and have given me some food for thought.

      When I was going through my lean expert certification at a multi-national corporation, they taught us that the 4 states a product can be in at any given time are:

      1) Transport
      2) Inspection
      3) Processing
      4) Storage

      …with 1, 2, and 4 all classified as waste (from a purist standpoint).

      I am now wondering if there are any benchmark figures for those categories. For example, a world-class organization has less than 5% of “Storage” time as expressed as a part of overall lead-time.

      I’d like to present to our leadership a comparison of our performance to those of world class lean orgs.



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