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What is Throughput in Manufacturing?

Throughput has become a make-or-break standard in the industry and a major focus for manufacturers. Simply put, throughput is the time required for a product to pass through the entire manufacturing process. Ineffective throughput translates to wasted resources and lost sales opportunities. Customers who are left waiting for their products are more likely to move on to a more reliable partner. Since both efficiency and customer retention have significant impacts on the bottom line, it’s important for companies to understand, evaluate, and analyze their throughput time to find potential areas of improvement.


Time is Money

Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying is just as true today as it was years ago. The world has changed, but the importance of efficiency remains the same, especially when it comes to manufacturing. Time is a key component in manufacturing. The clock starts when a product enters manufacturing and stops when a successfully finished product exits the process. It is important to note that scrapped parts and rejects do not count toward the actual throughput.


Calculating Throughput

Figuring throughput time is not complicated. Generally, there are four main time intervals to consider when calculating throughput for a particular product.

  1.      Processing time is how long production takes from beginning to end. For example, if production begins on August 15 and is completed on August 28, then processing time would be 13 days.
  2.      Inspection time includes the time it takes to inspect raw materials and the finished goods.
  3.      Move time refers to the time it takes to move materials or partially completed products from one workstation to another and to delivery status.
  4.      Queue time or wait time is the amount of time the product sits prior to processing, inspection, and moving.

It’s important to evaluate each step of the process and analyze where bottlenecks or inefficient procedures might be causing lag.


How to Improve Throughput in Manufacturing

When looking to improve throughput, consider two major elements: time and entropy. Time is easy to measure, but entropy is more complicated. Best known as the second law of thermodynamics, entropy can be summed up as the level of disorder in a system, which limits the amount of energy available to do useful work. Therefore, the million-dollar question becomes, “how can you minimize cost while maximizing speed?”

Consider the amount of potential energy consumed in each step of the manufacturing process. There is certainly a delicate balance between not wasting time and not wasting energy, so it is important to find a happy medium that results in achieving the lowest cost point. You want to go as fast as you can while maintaining control, and that requires channeling the flow of potential energy in the most efficient way possible.


If you are interested in having your throughput time assessed and optimized, reach out to Cornerstone. Our consultants can help you improve your manufacturing procedures to maximize efficiency. 

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CCO cannot and does not provide legal advice. It’s important to consult with qualified counsel before adopting any new policies. It’s also your responsibility to determine whether legal review of work product is necessary prior to implementation.