Manufacturing and industrial machinery businesses slash pre-pandemic lead times by almost half

Posted on 26 Aug 2022 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers and industrial machinery firms have reduced their delivery lead time delays by almost half over the last two years, new data has revealed.

Unleashed’s Product Lead Time Index used data from its inventory management software to track how product fulfilment has changed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

According to the index, Manufacturing and industrial machinery firms were one of the top industries to slash their lead times compared to pre-pandemic levels, dropping by 47.76% between 2019/20 and 2021/22 – the seventh biggest improvement for all sectors.

The analysis of more than 2,500 businesses and 25 different sub-sectors shows which ones experienced the most severe shortages during the Covid-19 crisis – and which recovered fastest as it subsided.

Food manufacturing facility production line stock image - Shutterstock

The sub-sectors with the biggest reduction in lead times since the height of the pandemic are:


Percentage drop in product lead time between (19-20 and 21-22)

Food (including fruit and vegetables, baked goods, prepared meals, snacks, sauces and condiments)


Electronics and telecommunications


Health, medical supplies and equipment


Office equipment and supplies


Clothing, footwear and accessories


Animal products


Industrial machinery, raw materials and equipment


Sport, entertainment and recreation


IT products and services


Agriculture, forestry and fishing



Lead time is defined as the amount of time between when a purchase order is placed to replenish products and when the order is received in the warehouse. These times can vary between suppliers, where typically the more suppliers involved in the chain, the longer the lead time is likely to be.

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Jones, Regional Manager UK & EMEA at Unleashed, said: “Global supply chains are complex, and while the market has been more uncertain than usual, our data suggests that suppliers are working hard to build resilience. In fact, for many, the crises have only strengthened their resolve. Given how much lead times have dropped in some sub-sectors including manufacturing and industrial machinery, their efforts are clearly paying off.

“Keeping a tight rein on inventory is essential at any time but particularly during periods of disruption. When product lead times are fluctuating, the right technology can quickly show you the actual vs expected lead times which allows you to manage customer expectations, or look for alternative suppliers who can deliver faster.”

For more information about the research, visit:

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