Learn all there is to know about what Takt time is, how to define it, and how it is different than cycle time and lead time.
It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that Lean management owes a great deal of its success in pulling new work in progress instead of pushing it. This allows you to create and deliver value to your customers only when there is a demand.
However, managing a pull system wouldn’t be possible without maintaining a continuous flow of work. This is not an easy task as demand is in a constant state of flux. In order to meet demand and run your process in the leanest and most efficient way, you need to define takt time for your work process.
Takt time is the rate at which you need to complete a product to meet customer demand. For example, if you receive a new product order every 4 hours, your team needs to finish a product in 4 hours or less to meet demand.
Takt time is your sell rate and can easily be categorized as the heartbeat of your work process. It allows you to optimize your capacity in the most appropriate way to meet demand without keeping too much inventory in reserve.
The term originates from the German word “takt”, which means a beat or a pulse. Takt time was first used as a metric in the 1930s in Germany for airplane manufacturing. Twenty years later, it contributed significantly to Toyota's rise from a small Japanese carmaker to the largest automobile company in the world.
To define takt time, you need to divide the production time available by customer demand.
In order to receive an accurate result using this takt time formula, you should put both the production time available and the customer demand into frames.
We advise you to include only the time your team will be actively working on creating value for your customers. This means that you should exclude breaks, scheduled maintenances, and shift changeovers (if there are any).
When defining takt time, you should include a relatively short time frame for the average customer demand (e.g., a week or a month).
To visualize this, let’s calculate the takt time for an imaginary company developing 3D printing machinery. The workweek is five-days long, and the company operates in a single nine-hour shift that includes a lunch hour break that lasts 60 minutes and two 15 minute breaks in the morning and the afternoon. The company receives orders for 10 machines per week on average.
To define the takt time that the team needs to maintain, we simply apply the above-mentioned formula.
The total available work time is 7 hours, 30 minutes per day. Breaking it down into minutes gives us exactly 450 minutes per day, which is 2250 minutes per week.
By dividing 2250 by 10 (average number of orders), we get a takt time of 225 minutes to complete a single 3D printing machine. Dividing 225 by 60 (minutes in an hour) gets us to a maximum takt time of 3 hours 45 minutes per order.
2250 / 10 = 225 minutes Takt time
As you can see, defining the takt time required to meet customer’s demand is not rocket science. With this data available, you can make well-informed choices for managing your team’s capacity according to customer demand.
In the beginning, people tend to confuse takt time with lead time and cycle time, which are Lean metrics of no lesser importance. We’ve already covered in detail the difference between lead time and cycle time so let’s focus on the essentials of each of the 3 metrics.
As a Lean manager, you should consider all three metrics as key performance indicators of your workflow.
Defining takt time is crucial for optimizing your team’s capacity. It is important for reducing the waste of your process. Takt time can help you maintain a continuous flow of work and reduce Mura (unevenness) in your workflow.
Nonetheless, takt time is valuable for optimizing storage costs as it will help you avoid overproduction.
Takt time is one of the most important Lean metrics. By defining takt time for your workflow you can:
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