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How to Measure Cycle Time and Conduct Heijunka (Production Leveling)【Excel Template】

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How to Measure Cycle Time and Conduc...

When you want to shorten your cycle time, first you have to measure the current cycle time. Use the free excel tool in this article. It explains how to use it and how to level it after measuring it in an easy-to-understand manner. Let’s shorten the cycle time with this.

(Duration: 5:37)

DOWNLOAD  ← Click this to download the “Cycle Time Measuring and Production Leveling Tool” file.

ATTN: You’ll download the improved version.  That will look different from the one in this video.  See the recent post.

What’s Cycle Time?

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.

Today, we’ll learn and practice how to measure Cycle Time and conduct Production Leveling.  One of our viewers asked me if I have a tool to measure Cycle Time.  Since we are in the Analyze Phase, her question was very timely. I have a simple one for this.

First of all, Cycle Time is often used in the manufacturing industry, but you can use this in your service operation improvements as well.  It’s imperative to know the current process time in order to increase productivity and decrease the process time.

The amount of process time per unit to make a product or to do a unit of something, is Cycle Time.  Then, what would you do after measuring it? That’s Production Leveling!  Well, let’s measure Cycle Time first.

Jump down to the Heijunka section. ↓

Download the Cycle Time Measuring Tool

You can download a Cycle Time Recorder Excel file from the link in this video’s description.

DOWNLOAD  ← Click this to download the “Cycle Time Measuring and Production Leveling Tool” file.

ATTN: You’ll download the improved version.  That will look different from the one in this video.  See the recent post.

Open the file and enable the VBA by clicking the buttons, “Enable Editing” and “Enable Macros”.

The file’s strong point is that it records each process time automatically just by clicking the ‘Next’ button.You can record each process time for up to 12 times*. Please record only real operating time without idle time.

*The improved version has no limit for the numbers of Process Steps and Attempts.  See the recent post.

How to measure Cycle Time

Here are the instructions. Let’s practice this program by following them.

Cycle Time Recorder Instructions

The Initial Setup

Step 1, save this Excel file in a tablet or laptop computer that Excel is installed in.  Step 2, enter your process’s step names in the cells in pink. I simply put from A1 to A5 here.

The two measuring methods are prepared. Step 3, select a measuring method, either ‘Measure All Steps Start to Finish’ or ‘Measure the Same Step Repeatedly’.

Choose one that can measure your process times easily. I’ll select ‘Measure the Same Step Repeatedly’ this time.

Step 4, enter the number of parts to make or operations whose time you’re going to measure in Cell O12.  Measure the same number of operations in all the steps each time.  The initial setup has been completed.

Let’s start measuring Cycle Time.

We’re going to start measuring now. Double-click a light-blue cell of a process step when the process step starts operation, to start timing it.

When the process step’s operation has completed, double-click the ‘Next’ button in yellow. Then that process time is recorded.  Since ‘Measure the Same Step Repeatedly’ is selected, we can measure the same step’s process time again.

When the process has completed again, double-click the same ‘Next’ button. Then, another process time will be recorded in the cell below.

How to do Heijunka (Production Leveling) using Cycle Time

Here are the results that we got using same procedure for all process steps.  In the line chart below, the blue line represents maximums, the red line represents averages and the gray line represents minimums.

(Click the image below to enlarge the image.)

31 Cycle Time Measuring Completed

Now, we’re going to do Production Leveling. There are two points to consider.  

Eliminate any bottleneck.

One is that each step’s average should be about the same. Otherwise, the longest time’s step would be a bottleneck.  In the table, times that are longer than the average among all steps’ averages are highlighted in pink.  The production line would become stagnant here and that would be a reason for the other steps’ delays or excess inventories.

The biggest problem is that the bottleneck’s productivity rate becomes the whole line’s productivity rate.   Shortening the bottleneck’s process time is an urgent need, but if you solve it, the improvement effect is significant!

Methods to achieve this are by improving the operating method, increasing manpower or equipment, also by transferring some parts of the operation to other steps.  One very important point is even when you solve the bottleneck, don’t let another step become a new bottleneck. Consider optimization all the time.

Decrease Variations

Another point when you see the line chart, intervals between the maximums and the minimums should be as small as possible.  If not, they have high variations. Examine the operations of steps that have large intervals, which are highlighted in pink on the table, and remove the reasons that cause the variations.

Solving bottlenecks and decreasing variations is Production Leveling or Heijunka in Japanese.

Today, I talked about how to measure Cycle Time and conduct Production Leveling.

“See these other popular articles.”


  1. Robert Nguyen says:

    Can we add additional steps to measure, if the process has more than 10 steps?

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