What is Takt Time

Guide: Takt Time

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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Takt time is a pivotal element in lean manufacturing, offering a structured approach to align production with customer demands. Originating from the German word ‘Takt,’ meaning ‘beat’ or ‘rhythm,’ Takt time serves as the heartbeat of a production line, setting a precise pace for manufacturing activities.

This rhythmical approach is crucial in maintaining a smooth and uninterrupted workflow, ensuring that production neither lags nor exceeds the required rate. By establishing a clear benchmark for each process step, Takt time effectively curtails inefficiencies and waste, making it an indispensable tool for enhancing productivity and operational efficiency.

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What is Takt Time?

Takt time is a key concept of lean manufacturing and process management and plays an important role in streamlining operations and improving productivity. Takt Time was born from the German word ‘Takt’, which means ‘beat’ or ‘ rhythm’. Takt time is the pace at which products must be manufactured to meet customer demands.

Takt time is often seen as the rhythm of production and is the heartbeat of a production line, dictating the speed at which work needs to progress to align with the customer’s demands and keeping lead times low. Implementing Takt time across a production process ensures production does not run too fast or too slow so that the processes continue to run smoothly and in an uninterrupted workflow. This is key in reducing inefficiencies and waste. By stating how long each step in the process should take, Takt time provides a clear benchmark for productivity and efficiency. 

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Why use Takt Time?

Lean manufacturing is all about removing waste and inefficiencies from the process Takt time is an important element of lean to help achieve an efficient workflow. By implementing Takt time in your processes, you can:

Bottlenecks: By using Taktime, you can pinpoint stages in production processes where delays occur and where intervention and optimization is needed to improve the flow of the process.

Eliminate Overproduction: By aligning production rates with actual customer demand, Takt time prevents the wastefulness of overproduction, a key principle in lean methodology.

Ensure Smooth Production Flow: It facilitates a balanced work rhythm, reducing the likelihood of inventory pileups or shortages.

 

Takt Time Calculation

To calculate takt time you can use a fairly simple formula: available working time divided by customer demand

Takt Time=Available Working TimeCustomer Demand

  • Available Working Time: This is the total time available for production within a specific timeframe (like a day or shift). This figure should exclude any non-productive time such as breaks, maintenance, or downtime.
  • Customer Demand: This represents the quantity of products that customers expect in the given timeframe.

How to Calculate Takt Time

Let’s illustrate the concept of Takt time with a straightforward example. Imagine a manufacturing company that produces widgets.

Step 1: Determining Available Working Time

Suppose the factory operates one 8-hour shift per day. However, within this shift, there are breaks and maintenance activities that need to be accounted for.

  • Total shift time = 8 hours = 480 minutes
  • Total break time = 30 minutes (including lunch and other breaks)
  • Maintenance time = 10 minutes

Therefore, the actual available working time is:

480 minutes (Total shift time) – 30 minutes (Break time) – 10 minutes (Maintenance time) = 440 minutes

Step 2: Determining Customer Demand

Let’s say the company has orders to fulfill 220 widgets in a day. This is the customer demand.

  • Customer Demand = 220 widgets

Step 3: Calculating Takt Time

Now, we apply the Takt time formula:

Takt Time=Available Working TimeCustomer Demand

Takt Time=440 minutes220 widgets

Let’s perform the calculation.

The calculated Takt time is 2 minutes per widget. This means that to meet customer demand, the production line should aim to produce one widget every 2 minutes. This pacing will ensure that the company can fulfill its daily orders efficiently without overproduction or delays. ​

How to Implement Takt Time?

Step 1: Setting up for Success

Step 1.1: Map the processes

In the process of implementing Tak time in your lean manufacturing process, the first thing you should do if you have not already, is map out the processes. This will help to create a clear understanding of the production process from start to finish.

During the mapping process, document each step in as much detail as possible, including how long each process step takes, and note down any inefficient time spent in the process step.

This will help you identify areas that need improvement and understand how each part of the process contributes to the overall flow.

Step 1.2: Identify Inefficiencies

Following the process map creation, you should identify areas in the process where delays and waste are occurring. Analyze each step of the process, looking for bottlenecks, unnecessary movements, or any form of inefficiency to make the process lean and efficient.

Identifying these issues allows you to address them directly, improving the overall efficiency of the production line.

Step 1.3: Standardizing Work Procedures

Once you have optimized the process, you need to ensure that the process steps are performed consistently each time in an efficient manner to ensure the takt time can be consistently met and even process flow and a good level of quality control. This can be helped by developing standard operating procedures or Standard Work instructions (SWIs) for each process.

Step 2: Aligning with Customer Demand

Step 2.1: Flexible Staffing

Following the setting up of processes in a lean and efficient way, the next step is to align the beat of the process with customer demand. This may mean needing to adapt and flex the workforce to meet changing production demands.

This may involve strategies such as cross-training employees, using part-time staff, or creating flexible shift patterns. This flexibility will allow the company to scale the labor force up and down as needed to align with the schedule. It is common for businesses to apply an 80/20 rule to staffing, with 80% being fixed employees and 20% being agencies that are flexed to meet changing customer demands over time. 

A consideration for this will be forecasting and adjusting with seasonality if that impacts customer orders.

Step 2.2: Machine Utilization 

Another focus of aligning with customer demand is machine utilization and optimizing the use of machinery and equipment. It is important to ensure all machines are properly maintained and used to their full capacity without overburdening them. Efficient machine utilization helps in keeping up with the Takt time while minimizing downtime.

Step 2.3: Inventory Management

There should be a focus on balancing inventory levels to match the production rate with demand, using methods such as Just in time (JIT) inventory practices will reduce overstocking and minimize shortages. Effective inventory management supports the Takt time by ensuring that materials are available when needed without excess.

Step 3: Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment

Ensure that Takt time remains aligned with customer demand and production capabilities. Regularly reassess and recalculate Takt time based on current demand and process efficiencies. This helps keep production aligned with market needs and operational capabilities.

Conclusion

Implementing Takt time is a multi-faceted journey towards operational excellence. It begins with a detailed mapping of processes, identifying inefficiencies, and standardizing procedures to create a lean and efficient workflow. Aligning this refined process with customer demand requires flexible staffing, optimized machine utilization, and strategic inventory management. However, the journey doesn’t end there.

Continuous monitoring and adjustment are vital to ensure that Takt time remains attuned to evolving customer needs and production capabilities. By embedding Takt time into the very fabric of manufacturing operations, businesses can achieve a harmonious balance between supply and demand, leading to sustained productivity and customer satisfaction.

References

A: Takt time is a metric that represents the available time divided by the customer demand. It determines the rate at which products or services must be produced or delivered to meet customer requirements.

A: Takt time is crucial for maintaining a balanced production or service flow. It helps organizations optimize their operations, reduce waste, and ensure that work is completed at the right pace to meet customer demand efficiently.

A: Takt time is calculated by dividing the available time for production or service delivery by the customer demand. The formula is: Takt Time = Available Time / Customer Demand.

A: The resulting value of Takt Time represents the time available to produce or deliver one unit of the product or service. It provides guidance on how long each unit should take to meet customer demand efficiently.

A: Yes, Takt Time should be regularly reviewed and adjusted based on changes in customer demand, available time, or process improvements. It allows organizations to adapt to evolving conditions and maintain optimal productivity levels.

A: Continuous improvement efforts should focus on reducing Takt Time. This can be achieved through waste reduction, process streamlining, and efficiency-enhancing measures. Regular analysis and improvement of processes contribute to faster production or service delivery without compromising quality.

A: Yes, Takt Time can be applied to service industries as well. It helps in determining the pace at which services should be delivered to align with customer demand, ensuring efficient service delivery and customer satisfaction.

A: Yes, Takt Time can be utilized in project management to establish the required pace of work completion to meet project milestones and deliverables. It aids in resource allocation and project scheduling.

A: Takt Time and cycle time are related but different concepts. Takt Time focuses on the rate at which work should be completed to meet customer demand, while cycle time refers to the time it takes to complete a specific task or process. Takt Time helps in determining the desired cycle time to meet the overall demand.

Author

Picture of Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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