What is Takt Time and How to Define It?

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.

Introduction

It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that Lean management owes a great deal of its success to 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.

What is Takt Time?

Takt time is the rate at which you need to complete a product in order to meet customer demand. For example, if you receive a new product order every 4 hours, to meet demand, your team needs to finish a product in 4 hours or less.

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 1930’s in Germany for airplane manufacturing. Twenty years later, it contributed significantly to the rise of Toyota from a small Japanese car maker to the largest automobile company in the world.

How to Define Takt Time?

To define takt time, you need to divide the production time available by the customer demand.

Takt time formula

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).

In order to visualize this, let’s calculate the takt time for an imaginary company developing 3D printing machinery. The work week 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 2350 minutes per week.

By dividing 2350 by 10 (average number of orders), we get a takt time of 235 minutes to complete a single 3D printing machine. Dividing 235 by 60 (minutes in an hour) gets us to a maximum takt time of 3 hours 55 minutes per order.

2350 / 10 = 235 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.

Takt Time vs Cycle Time vs Lead Time

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.

  • Lead time is the time frame between an order being received and the client getting their value.
  • Cycle time is the time your team spends actively working on a customer order.
  • Takt time is the maximum amount of time you need to comply with in order to meet customer demand.

As a Lean manager, you should consider all three metrics as key performance indicators of your workflow.

Why is Takt Time Important?

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.

In Summary

Takt time is one of the most important Lean metrics. By defining takt time for your workflow you can:

  • Establish a continuous flow of work.
  • Optimize your capacity to meet customer demand.
  • Reduce storage costs by avoiding overproduction.

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