During a process cycle, a certain path (called a process path) is followed. Individual process cycles within the same process can be different if, for example, the process contains an OR decision. Each process cycle and each activity has a cycle time, or time required for completion. Different process variants arise due to variations in process cycles.
The course of a process can be influenced by several factors, including all process-relevant times (e.g., processing time, idle time, transport time, wait time) and decisions.
The processing time usually varies with each execution and can only be made absolute through full automation. Therefore, the processing time will usually fall within set tolerance limits, as it does in assembly line production, for example. If the processing time in such a scenario exceeds the tolerance limit, the wait time for the goods and services increases, as does the time between this and the next processing step. Also, before the step where the processing time limit was exceeded, there will be a “jam,” then there will be an “empty run” while the system waits for the next product to be processed.
Resource scarcity and utilization of employees and machines may also have a detrimental effect on process times. For example, delayed delivery of raw materials increases the wait time between two process steps. And if the delivery of a product is delayed, the transport time for the product and the wait time for the subsequent process step are extended.
In addition, decisions impact the process flow—one decision results in two or more different process sequences. Decisions can affect a number of activities or further decisions, which in turn influence cycle time.
For instance, it is usually a longer process to prepare food than to order it. Thus, the lower process cycle would be slower than the upper one, although both process variants run through a total of four process steps. The situation becomes more difficult with parallel processes, since both process paths must be run through in any case. As a result, the activity must wait for the completion of one of the parallel process steps after the parallelism.
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