Understanding the differences between takt time, cycle time, and lead time is essential to help one get the most from these different measurements. Comparing the results of these formulas can help determine what may be causing production delays and how one can become more efficient.

The Difference Between Takt Time, Cycle Time, & Lead Time

Takt Time

Takt time measures how quickly it is necessary to complete the production of an item to meet the demands of one’s customers. It is calculated by dividing the production hours by the units required to meet demand. This number provides you with the ideal time it would take one’s workers to produce what one needs, not the actual time it is taking. 


Cycle Time

Cycle time is a measurement of the total time it takes to produce one unit. Calculate it by dividing production time by the number of units produced during that time. This time gives you a concrete measurement of how long a given operation is taking. 


Lead Time

Lead time is the time it takes from when a customer orders a product to when they receive it. Subtract when the order is received from when it is delivered to calculate this measurement. Lead time allows you to measure the efficiency of your business from the perspective of the customer.



Measuring these times is useful because it allows one to compare them in order to examine inefficiencies in one’s system. For example, if one’s calculated cycle time is greater than the takt time, it indicates that one’s production speed is not keeping up with demand. In the reverse case, one may be producing too many units, and thereby creating an unnecessary surplus. 


By calculating and comparing these times, one can determine where the system’s inefficiencies are and take steps to correct them. Consider finding an appropriate software in order to take these measurements, instead of having workers participate in the process; having people stop to record the time when they finish a task can be stressful and create unnecessary inefficiency, slowing your production and leading to inaccurate measurements. Recorded and used correctly, takt, cycle, and lead time are invaluable tools for determining how to best organize one’s production efforts.