Effective Lead Time Analysis: How to Reduce Lead Time?


An in-depth look at how to reduce lead time in a manufacturing/production setting. In this article, we will also get to know strategies for a more effective lead time management system and standard lead time analysis.

Article Highlights

  • Calendar time is the amount of time spent on job order up to its completion.
  • The goal of lead time analysis is to deliver as fast as you can.
  • Lead time management has a great impact towards any company in the manufacturing or retail industry.

As mentioned in the previous article, cost estimation needs all the time in the world to make sure the process gets done perfectly. When it comes to lead time reduction, you need to do the most out of the little time that you have. Two different concepts with opposite approach but let us focus on lead time analysis in this blog post.

Getting things done fast is a must in the world of manufacturing. However, it’s not just about how many products are produced in a single day but also the amount of work being put in to create each product. This is why you often hear of the term “lead time” in most manufacturing companies and why bosses are concered with “lead time analysis”. I personally label lead time and activity as calendar time and clock time respectively.

Calendar time is the amount of time spent on job order up to its completion while clock time is the amount of work to get things done. For example, if a project is required to be done in a week then your calendar time will not be affected as long as you finish the project in a week but you can improve on your clock time if you do the work faster. Only one of them can be a factor in your lead time analysis purpose.

The goal of lead time analysis is to deliver as fast as you can and make sure the gap between the request of order and delivery is the shortest time possible. Just to remind ourselves, studies have proven that the first product sample or proposal is most likely chosen 85% of the time. Sometimes it’s not about being top quality or having a reasonable price, it was simply being the first out there and this is what lead time analysis is all about.

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Key Strategies for Effective Lead Time Analysis

  1. Multi-task – As I have become conscious of lead time analysis, I tend to work in parallel instead of a series in order to multi-task. As long as I don’t have my hands full on a task, then I make sure to do something else at the same time. Multi-tasking is basic for effective lead time analysis.
  2. Avoid handoffs – Keep in mind that each handoff requires the work to stop before it resumes again which is bad for lead time analysis. The gaps in between can cause a delay and sometimes an inevitable error could disrupt the entire process. If you are into lead time analysis then avoid handoffs as much as possible and this can be done by giving employees the right tools that they need.
  3. Shorten steps/processes – This strategic lead time management can also be attributed to avoiding handoffs as cutting steps or shortening processes does that and eventually reduces lead time. Simply assess all the processes involved in work being done within your company then eliminate or if possible, create shortcuts but make sure the objectives are still met.
  4. Take advantage of technology – This is most of the time an overlooked factor in lead time analysis. Just as much as you love shopping, consider shopping for technology and tools a hobby as well to help boost your company’s productivity and efficiency.
  5. Maximize capacity – You do not have to do this by hiring more employees but simply by compressing work being done by each employee. Maximize their capabilities and make sure you are able to squeeze the most out of them in a single shift. This strategy would definitely have a huge impact on your lead time analysis.

Lead time analysis has a great impact towards any company particularly the ones in the manufacturing or retail industry. One should acknowledge that delivering fast is a clear advantage over the competition. Having no time to waste means giving value to every second the clock is ticking with the work in progress. Start working on lead time management for a more effective lead time analysis.