Cyclical variation is often used to describe a repeating pattern, such as a seasonal variation in sales that peaks before Christmas. Cycle time variation is a metric and philosophy for continuous improvement with the aim of driving down the deviations in the time it takes to produce successive units on a production line. It supports organizations’ application of lean manufacturing or lean production by eliminating wasteful expenditure of resources. It is distinguished from some of the more common applications by its different focus of creating a structure for progressively reducing the sources of internal variation that leads to workarounds and disruption causing these wastes to accumulate in the first place. Although it is often used as an indicator of lean progress, its use promotes a structured approach to reducing disruption that impacts efficiency, quality, and value.

Cyclical Variation

It is necessary for organizations to identify and measure cyclical variations within their market to help them plan for the future. This can prepare them for the temporary increases or decreases in labor requirements and inventory as demand for their product or service fluctuates over certain periods. This may require training, periodic maintenance, and so forth that can be organized in advance. Apart from these considerations, the organizations need to know if variation they have experienced has been more or less than the expected amount, beyond what the usual seasonal variations account for.


Wikipedia. Cycle time variation.