Every business organization struggles with operational efficiencies. And the range of these issues is often dependent on how effective the business’ processes are. Regardless of the peculiarities of each company’s problems, a key factor that may be able to help improve business operations, determine production, output efficiency, and delivery schedule is something called Takt Time.
What is Takt Time?
Takt time is the maximum amount of time necessary for a business to produce a product that satisfies the customer. The term “takt time” has its origins in the German word “Takzeit” and means “pulse” or “rhythm”. This German word is pretty common among german engineers who use it to describe how long it takes to produce products meeting a customer’s demand.
Therefore, if it takes 5 minutes to produce a satisfactory product for the customer, that’s the takt time for that product. In essence, a high takt time often equals long production periods. And short takt times equal shorter production periods. This is why smart, high-efficiency companies do their best to shorten their takt time. This way, they can meet customer demand faster, without losing product quality.
How to Calculate Takt Time
This is usually calculated using the following Takt Time formula:
Available production time per 24 hours ÷ customer demand volume per 24 hours.
For example, let’s assume that a customer needs 60 units of a product per day from a manufacturing company. If the staff of the manufacturing company works 24 hours a day with three 30-minute shift changeovers, that means that the firm is actually working a 22.5 hour day. Therefore, your Takt Time formula will be:
(22.5 hours x 60 minutes) 1350 minutes ÷ 150 = 9 minutes. So, customer demand takt time is 9 minutes per unit.
Therefore, whatever the manufacturer does, they must produce one unit every 8 minutes to ensure that they meet customer demand and the continuous flow of product orders. If they can further shorten this takt time to say, half the time (4.5 minutes per product unit), they can easily double the number of orders that they can take.
As part of the lean six sigma manufacturing processes, takt time is often used as a vital aspect of key performance indicators (KPIs). With this, companies can easily track their ability to meet customer demand. if the company’s efforts are lacking, the firm can easily pinpoint the possible cause of the delay and fix it immediately.
Major Causes of Long Takt Time
- Disruptions in work processes – For example, if there’s a power outage affecting the plant
- Limited access to raw materials – When manufacturers are unable to get the raw materials they need on time, it will slow down the rate of deliverables
- Lack of dependable vendors or suppliers – Vendors and suppliers are a vital part of the supply chain. If they’re unable to meet up with your demands, it can contribute to a slower output or project deficits
- Breakdown in machinery – Equipment break down without any backups will most likely, halt any manufacturing or production process
- Natural disasters – Even with great takt times and operational processes, natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods can cripple any organization’s processes
- Worker downtime – This is usually in the form of strike actions and protests
So How Do You Eliminate Long Takt Times?
Anything can cause long takt times and affect your production line’s output. So, you’ve got to identify the real cause of the delays. But to do that, you’ll have to figure out the answer to the question:
Why is my organization’s total production time longer than another organization of equal stature? How are they able to produce the same amount of work or output that a company of a similar stature produces in a shorter timeframe.
If you can figure that out, then it should be easier. Thankfully, there are available guidelines that can point you in the right direction.
Start by applying lean six sigma approaches. This involves eliminating and cutting out all forms of waste. If it doesn’t add any value to your process, get rid of it. You’ll have to establish new rigorous standards that will not only assure customers of your product’s quality but also, keep them happy.
Lean six sigma is a very vital tool for this purpose if you’re looking to build or establish fast, efficient, and precise production lines that will lead to shorter takt times and high productivity among your workers.
Then, consider splitting the tasks that result in long takt times into smaller, bite-sized intervals that you’ll use to measure your progress. So, this will function as smaller takt times. This way, the production line keeps moving and isn’t held up by backlogs of tasks that workers should have completed.
A third strategy would be to reassess the time assumptions and workers’ capacity. Sometimes, management might think they need so much time to get some orders filled, when in reality, what they need is a new perspective on time and capacity.
For instance, instead of assuming –according to the initial takt time– that your firm needs a 9 minute takt time (based on the example above) for one product unit, you can simply switch from a linear process and use a lateral one that involves installing more workstations instead of one station.
Then, allocate the appropriate cycle time (we’ll talk about this in the next section) for each phase of the product creation, and let the stations do their work. This way, you’ll be able to meet up with demand and fill the quantity of units required in far less time.
To help you understand this, here’s an example: Imagine that instead of just one workstation, you have 9 more. You can easily cut and balance each phase’s cycle time for efficiency –if the average cycle time was 3 minutes, you can cut it down to 1.5-2 minutes max – so that the product can move on to the next phase.
The only challenge you may have to deal with is the need for additional resources or manpower. But if you’ve trained your staff well, some of them can easily be deployed to the new stations where they can oversee the process. This way, you can get all your daily output done in 10 percent of the time it would normally take to meet customer demand.
Many people confuse takt time with cycle time. They are two different things, even though they are both parts of a larger process. Cycle time is the length of time it takes to finish a part of the process. For example, if the takt time for producing a pair of shoes is 2 minutes, one of the cycle times is the time it’ll take for the machine to apply the glue to the sole.
Another cycle time is the time it’ll take to place the sole inserts, and so on. In the 2 minutes that it takes to produce the shoe, the various processes required to make the whole shoe have different cycle times. So, cycle times are usually subsets of a takt time. Summarily, total cycle time = 1 takt time.
This is the time interval between when a process is initiated and when it’s completed. For example, the time between ordering a new vehicle and delivery is usually between 14 and 42 days. So, the time spent on doing the actual work like constructing the car parts, assembling the car, testing it for quality issues, and finally delivering the complete vehicle is known as lead time.
Takt Time Benefits
Organizations that work hard at fine-tuning their takt time tend to enjoy a lot of benefits. With a highly tweaked and perfected takt time, companies find that:
- It’s easier to meet and satisfy customer demand
- Helps with data collection and helps you measure your progress
- It’s easier to calculate time and resource expenditure
- Keeps the production line running efficiently
- Helps minimize wastage
- Improves business operations
- Can improve available production time, allowing you access and fill more orders
- Takt time can positively impact production lines
- Can increase productivity and improve your ability to meet all demands
- Allows you demand better performance from employees
- Allows you to maintain a constant rate of production and output
If your business operations are lacking and your delivery times seem long or inconsistent, takt time can help you bring it under control. With proper implementation, it’s easier to determine how many product units your clients need per day, week, month or quarter, and meet those demands. Think of it as a tool that helps shift your company’s direction, placing you on the right path to profits and prestige.