What is Throughput? - Definition & Process

Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Products move through various steps during production. In order for a company to keep track of the time it takes to arrive at a finished good, they use a method known as throughput. In this lesson, we will define the term and learn the process.

A First Look at Throughput

Meet Troy! Troy is finishing his degree in business and needs one more class to graduate. The main focus of the course is production, which happens to be something Troy knows very little about. One week in, the instructor assigns the class a paper to write on one aspect of production. After looking through his textbook, Troy decides to write his paper on throughput. Come along as Troy learns what throughput is and why it is important to production.

Throughput Defined

The first thing Troy needs to learn, is the basic definition of throughput. Throughput is a way for a company to measure how much time is needed for a product to complete the process of manufacturing. It is also a way for a company to understand the processing speed of the machines used during production for a given period of time. So, Troy has learned that throughput is basically how long it takes a company to get a product from the beginning to the end. The objective of throughput is to minimize the amount of time needed to get a product, or good, through the entire production process so that a company can ultimately increase their profitability. The faster a company can move a product, the more they can produce per day, and the more money they will make.

A Four Step Process

The next step for Troy is to learn how the process works. This means understanding what a product goes through during the production process. First, a company starts with raw materials. Raw materials are the basic components that a product needs to be fully completed. The time starts when the raw material is put into production and does not end until it leaves manufacturing altogether. Troy learned that there are many pieces during that production process, all of which comprise throughput. They are as follows:


For a company, this time covers the entire process of taking the raw material and making it into the final finished good. Therefore, Troy understands this step as the complete process of making a good or a product.


During production, companies have to make inspections. This helps them discover any problems so that they can make adjustments as needed, and avoid costly mistakes. Troy learned that inspections occur at different times during the process, such as at the very beginning with the inspection of the raw materials, at varying intervals throughout production, and finally at the end, when a product becomes a finished good.


This is exactly what it says it is. It is the time it takes to move the product, whether it is into the production process, or from one machine to the next. It can even include when a company moves the product out of the production process to get it ready for shipping.

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