Takt Time

What Is Takt Time?

Answered March 05 2020

In the briefest of definitions, takt time is the German word for a precise interval of time, such as a musical note, beat, or meter. In the world of manufacturing, it’s something rather different--and important. 

The manufacturing world is ruled by numbers, metrics, statistics, production times, and a whole host of other numbers that determines the success or failure of any particular thing at any given particular time. Takt time simplifies whether supply can meet customers' demand. 

Here is a comprehensive guide to takt time, how it is measured and calculated, and why it is important to the modern-day plant, factory, and manufacturing. 

What is Takt Time? 

In the modern-day, takt time is the available production time divided by customer demand. It was first used in the 1930s by the German production aircraft industry and was picked up in the 1950s by Toyota, who still uses it today.

Another way of thinking about takt time is by considering the natural rhythm of a well-ordered plant or facility that consistently produces a set amount of inventory per month or year. This rhythm is the basis of modern takt time and the calculations surrounding it. 

However, it's more than a measurement of time, production and progress. It's also a different way of thinking about production that is centered around customer demand. Takt processes by their nature help deliver the right product in the right way at the right time. This is because takt time centers around the pulse of the machines in any given production plant. when does pulse is carefully watched, it highlights inefficiencies, capacity issues, synchronization struggles, and other such problems that are apt to slip under the radar. 

Finally, takt time is a great way to simplify a company’s issues down to an easy formula that can be understood and acted on in a timely way. Here’s how you can use it. 

How is Takt Time Used?

Takt time is used to:

  • Establish or improve a continuous workflow
  • Optimize a company or plant’s capacity to fill orders at all times
  • Reduce storage costs by minimizing excess inventory
  • Reflect the rate of production needed in order to meet the demand
  • And showcases what changes need to be made in order to optimize a plant’s practices. 

The vast majority of these observations flow out of the mathematical expression of takt time. This leads us to how takt time is generally measured and the best practices that surround it today. 

Measurements and best practices

Takt time is generally calculated using this formula:

Available time for production / required units of production

It's important to note that the time available corporate action reflects the total number of all of the units of time that employees are working. It should not include breaks, meetings, mandatory training, or any other similar activities.

The number of required units of production is a measure of the current customer demand. Another way to think about it is how many products does a company expected customers to buy in a set period of time.  that time should be consistent between both valuables in the above equation.

If a process or production line is not able to reach takt time, it’s time to investigate. Demand leveling, additional resources and/or re-engineering may be needed in order to fix this issue. 

If it sounds like takt time is similar to cycle or lead time, you’re not wrong. Let’s take a look at these different metrics and what their differences are. 

Takt time vs cycle time vs lead time

The best way to compare these three metrics is by looking at their definitions.

Takt time is the available production time divided by customer demand.

Cycle time is the amount of active time your team spends on fulfilling a customer order.

Lead time is the amount of time between a company receiving an order and the customer getting their value from the order.  

All of these are important and valuable metrics for a manufacturing plant. However, they are measurements of different things and should not be confused. Perhaps the biggest difference between all of them is that takt time is an actual calculation, while the other metrics are simply measurements of total amount of time spent in a particular area.

Why is takt time important?

Takt time is important in these areas:

  • Studying your workflows.
  • Observing production lines.
  • Discovering and analyzing issues in your internal supply chain.
  • And other related or similar situations. 

What are its benefits? 

The first benefit of takt time is that it improves workflows. The way your business runs generally suffers from problems that are sometimes easy to spot. Takt time brings those issues into high definition and allows companies to begin to work on them. 

Takt time also works well in many metric-oriented strategies. It can be a great KPI or trackable metric, displaying an aspect of your production lines that you or other managers may not have considered. It can be a great asset if you are using the theory of constraints or Kaban strategies. Finally, it’s an important component of lean manufacturing and the strategies surrounding it. 

What does all of this mean for companies and their bottom lines? 

How it impacts companies

Takt time impacts companies insofar as it’s applied and used. It’s a great solution to slow or lagging production lines, studying your internal supply chains, and other such areas. However, it doesn’t offer much outside of these areas. 

If these are areas in which you have questions, it may be time to test out this equation and study up on your workflows. Let’s take a look at how you can do that. 

How to implement takt time

The best way to implement a proper use of takt time is by analyzing your available production time and your customer demand. When you have those numbers, you can figure out what your existing takt time is and how you can improve it.

Like many other metrics, it's simple to understand and use in theory.  In practice, each company is going to run up against different issues over time. In fact, takt time is one of the harder metrics to pin down. 

It's simply the nature of metric oriented strategies. Numbers don't always work in real-time, no matter how good they look in a vacuum. However, this is not to discredit any of the values that metrics in general and takt time in particular offer any given company. 

On the contrary, it's important to understand it to see if it can be applied to your workflows in a positive and profitable way. 

Before the workflows start again…

In modern manufacturers, the old ways are quickly disappearing. From CMMS systems to innovative networks, such as the Internet of Things, the plants of yesterday are quickly becoming the future of tomorrow.

Takt time is a metric that can help you move into that future. With its focus on optimizing inventory and streamlining workflows, it provides answers to some of manufacturing’s most pesky problems. 

Even though it's not the easiest of metrics to use, properly managed software such as enterprise management software can take this metric and use it to create more detailed reports to launch you and your company into a better space financially and logistically. 


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