What is Takt Time?
Takt Time indicates the speed at which a product has to be manufactured to satisfy customer requirements. Specifically, it’s the time elapsed between starting work on two consecutive items.
Lean companies use the takt time metric to set the speed of production lines and to define JIT processes, to perfectly match their clients’ demand and maintain a continuous flow of work through the system.
How is takt time calculated?
Takt time is the total available working time divided by the number of units that a customer demands.
The available time will be calculated as
8 x 60 minutes = 480 minutes, minus the 30 minutes break, and then 60 minutes of downtime.
This makes for 390 minutes of total available working time.
The takt time is therefore 390/10, meaning that a unit needs to be produced every 39 minutes, for the system to be able to meet the customer demand.
This simple formula can be based on time available in a day, in an hour, time over a week, etc., depending on what’s best for your process.
Takt time vs cycle time vs lead time
The cycle time describes how long it takes to produce one unit of a product from start to finish - it concerns active working time only. The takt time relies on how soon the customer needs the product and calculates the total time in which you should complete the delivery, to meet that demand. Lead time is the time elapsed between the customer placing the order and receiving it; production queues, rework, and transport included.
You could think of it in this way: cycle time measures the supply, while takt time describes the demand, and lead time deals with internal flow and process efficiency.
Why should you gauge the takt time?
Because takt time ties to how often and how much of a product your customer demands, calculating it allows you to gauge the speed at which you need to be working to satisfy the customer. If your team produces too slowly, then the customer may move their business elsewhere, and if too much of the product is made, or it’s produced too quickly, your inventory will increase, leading to an increase in waste and hence a reduction in profit.
Also, takt time gives managers and staff an indication of how things are progressing. Both the team and the manager can easily see if they are behind or in front of the required production pace.
Takt time should be similar to, or just over the throughput time, which measures how long it takes to produce one item, while takt time is how long it should take.
How to better meet the process’ takt time?
There are a few things you can do to get closer to aligning the process with the calculated takt time:
Step 1: Map out your value stream, optimize the processes
Examine your value stream, trying to find ways of removing waste and optimizing actions, to match the takt time. Inserting the takt time into each element of the value stream is a great indicator to shareholders, as well as team members, of the standard you are working towards.
Step 2: Conduct a 5S Initiative
Using 5S will often reduce the cycle time and increase throughput, which will make it possible for you to better match takt time.
Step 3: Conduct Heijunka
A common challenge with takt time is that it can vary from order to order. Once your processes are optimized, and you’re on your way with the 5S initiative, it would be beneficial to look at introducing Heijunka to ensure customers ordering is more leveled, contributing to your production also remaining level. Observing the Takt Time can help you measure the maturity degree of Heijunka in your facility, as it is strictly related to customer orders.
Direct collaboration between you and your customer will help you better understand the takt time, and hence make it easier to align it with your process.
Step 4: Increase production flexibility
Finally, if the processes are optimized, another factor you could look at is the increase in your production’s agility, letting you better adapt to takt time fluctuations. This might mean introducing flexible working arrangements (i.e. internal workforce on-demand relocation, or calling in external temporary workers) – all to perfectly align production with the changing takt time.
However, make sure to take these measures only when necessary, since an increase in the number of employees and equipment in an already inefficient process can further aggravate the problem.
Key benefits of adhering to customers’ takt time
Through working towards maintaining the best possible alignment between your production and the required takt time, you will:
- optimize your process flow and decrease downtime, through quicker bottlenecks and underperformance identification
- deliver to the customer in a timely, predictable, and reliable manner
- minimize excess inventory