lead time

\ˈlēd- \

Definition of lead time 

: the time between the beginning of a process or project and the appearance of its results

Examples of lead time in a Sentence

We will need at least six months lead time before production begins.

Recent Examples on the Web

Blasting a space rock apart with a nukewouldn't be the first choice of most scientists or policymakers, but such an extreme measure may be the only way to deal with a big space rock detected with little lead time. Mike Wall, Space.com, "About 17,000 Big Near-Earth Asteroids Remain Undetected: How NASA Could Spot Them," 10 Apr. 2018 But this time, the lead time went beyond eight days. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "Why weather forecasters still struggle to get the big storms right," 6 Apr. 2018 Lake Brantley junior Damarius Good ran area-leading times of 10.63 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 21.88 in the 200 to win both of the boys dashes at the National Trainiong Center. Buddy Collings, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Fast district times on fast track at National Training Center," 12 Apr. 2018 Snap is also using more mainstream suppliers that require less lead time to produce components for Spectacles and have been able to learn manufacturing lessons from the first version. Georgia Wells, WSJ, "Snap Tries Again With High-Tech Specs," 26 Apr. 2018 More lead time before winds reach dangerous levels. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "3 ways hurricane forecasts will be improved this season: National Hurricane Center," 19 Apr. 2018 Li & Fung, a 20-year partner of Kohl’s, is in the midst of a three-year plan to cut lead times by half and digitize its global supply chain for apparel. Lindsey Rupp, Bloomberg.com, "‘Speed Up or Die’ Is the New Reality for U.S. Apparel Retailers," 21 Mar. 2018 The collaboration drops with plenty of lead time to Excision's Lost Lands Music Festival, where Illenium will headline in September. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Excision & Illenium Tease 'Gold (Stupid Love)' Collaboration: Hear the Sneak Peek," 13 July 2018 Historically, launching satellites into space has been an expensive endeavor that requires a lot of lead time, said Scott Wierzbanowski, from DARPA. Rebecca Santana, The Christian Science Monitor, "How to make space exploration less expensive? Reuse the rockets.," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lead time.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lead time

1944, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for lead time

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for lead time

The first known use of lead time was in 1944

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More Definitions for lead time

lead time


Financial Definition of lead time

What It Is

Lead time is the amount of time between ordering something and receiving it.

How It Works

For example, let's say Company XYZ makes and sells widgets. It has a customer, ABC Company, that wants to buy 10,000 widgets to put in its retail stores in October for the Christmas season.

It takes two weeks to get the widget parts and a week to assemble 10,000 units, so Company XYZ has a lead time of about a month. That means that it must get the order from ABC company no later than September 1 in order to make the delivery on time.

Why It Matters

Lead time is a crucial part of managing a manufacturing business or any business that involves waiting for supplies or products to arrive. Generally, the lower the lead time, the more flexible a company is and the faster it can respond to changes in trends. However, shorter lead times can cost more money if the buyer has to pay for overtime, expedited shipping costs, or other rush charges. This in turn makes it difficult to say whether shortening lead time will increase profits, though it usually will increase customer satisfaction.

Source: Investing Answers

lead time


English Language Learners Definition of lead time

: the time between the beginning of a process or project and the appearance of its results

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