What is Takt Time?

What is Takt Time?

Takt Time indicates the speed of producing an item, matched to the customer demand. Specifically, it’s the time elapsed between starting work on 2 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.

Example

Activity Daily amount
Total working time 8 hrs a day
Lunchtime 0.5 hrs per day
Maintenance 1 hr a day
Units demanded 10

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 measures the total time in which you must 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 measure 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 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 improve process’ takt time?

There are a few things you can do to get closer to achieving your 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. Takt time is a great metric to measure the maturity of Heijunka in your facility since it strictly relates to customer orders.

Step 4: Increase production volumes

Finally, if the processes are optimized, the factor you can look at is increasing your capacity to meet the takt time. This might mean hiring new staff, purchasing more equipment, or pulling more Kanban cards into production. Be careful that you do not do this as your first step, as increasing the number of people and equipment in an inefficient process often makes things much worse.

Key benefits of measuring and adjusting takt time

Through working towards maintaining the best possible 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