Lean Manufacturing:
What is Takt Time?

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"Takt" is the German word for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the speed, beat or timing at which musicians play. Lean Production uses Takt Time as the rate or time that a completed product is finished. If you have a Takt Time of two minutes that means every two minutes a complete product, assembly or machine is produced off the line. Every two hours, two days or two weeks, whatever your sell rate is your Takt Time.

How is Takt Time established?
The customers buying rate establishes Takt Time. It's the rate at which the customer buys your product. So this means that over the course of a day, week, month, or year the customers you sell to are buying at a rate of one every two minutes.

What happens if the customers buy fewer products?
You can't predict when and how much a customer will buy. But if customer demand falls for an extended period of time then the Takt time should change. This means that if your producing at a Takt Time of one every two minutes and the customers demand fall to a rate of one every 3 minutes. Then your Takt Time should increase or become more. Your Takt Time should increase to 3 minutes and production staffing should be set accordingly.

What happens if the customers buy more?
Then your Takt Time will decrease. You would lower your Takt Time to make more products in a shorter amount of time. This means if your customer buy more than your 2 minute Takt Time. Then you would lower your Takt Time to match the sell rate and increase staffing accordingly.

Producing to Takt Time with optimal staffing is where you want to be: where you have the right amount of people to produce your product within your established Takt Time. The Operators cycle times are loaded to Takt Time.

Imbalances in Takt Time, especially in older facilities, drive security inventories and buffer space. If you manage such a facility, one step on "the Lean Journey" is to monitor Summed Takt in order to move toward preventive (rather than reactive) quality measures. That is, if you can detect, contain, and correct a problem within Takt + Buffer Time (Summed Takt) then you have taken a step toward Error Proofing. This is no substitute for continuously improving a balanced Takt Time (thereby eliminating security inventory / buffering) but, rather, it is a first step which you can institute quickly and economically and which will help the people begin to "see" Lean.

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