Takt Time is a lean manufacturing tool used by companies to measure the rate at which a single product needs to be completed to meet customer demand. Or in more simple terms, Takt Time is the required production rate to keep up with demand. Keeping track of Takt Time enables companies to accurately gauge how fast their production schedule needs to be while enabling them to optimize their productions and keep less inventory.
Takt Time is primarily used within a pull manufacturing system where the product is only made after there has been explicit demand from the market. This is in contrast to a pull manufacturing system where the product is fabricated prior to explicit demand and then pushed onto the market.
Takt is a German term for pulse or heartbeat. The demand for your product affects the pulse of your business.
The objective of Takt Time is to maintain a continuous flow of work.
Takt Time is central to JIT (Just In Time) manufacturing. If the product is finished early or late, then time was not used or planned efficiently.
Tracking Takt Time enables companies to be responsive to market demand and maintain less inventory.
The concept of Takt Time has been around for centuries, even predating the Second Industrial Revolution with Venice shipbuilders in the 16th century. It was also used by Germany for airplane manufacturing in the 1930s and by Henry Ford in the mass production of the Model T in the early 1900s.
But like most lean methodologies, the concept of Takt Time was made popular by the Toyota Production System (TPS) in the 1950s. Since then, Takt Time has become a central part of the Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing methodology.
“Takt” is the German word for “pulse”. Your pulse slows down or speeds up based on your body’s oxygen demand. Think of it like asking your body to run a long distance. The faster you run, the more your body is in demand of oxygen. And your heart and lungs need to deliver.
Similarly, your Takt Time varies depending on customer demand. As customers order more products, your company’s production rate needs to speed up accordingly. By calculating Takt Time, you can pinpoint the speed at which your production needs to flow.
The simplest way to understand how to calculate Takt Time is to break it down into its most basic parts. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few examples of how Takt Time is calculated.
Imagine you produce high-quality wood baseball bats for kids. If you receive 1 product order every hour, then you will need to produce 1 wooden bat per hour to keep up with demand. Simple enough. But let’s take this a bit further.
Let’s say you have 5 employees that perform active work for 30 hrs each week, equalling 150 hours of total available production time (TAPT). The weekly demand (D) is 300 wooden bats for the week. With this information, we can calculate the needed Takt Time (TT) to keep up with demand.
TAPT  / D  = TT [0.5]
As we can see, your takt time is 0.5, which means that you will need to produce 1 wooden bat for every 0.5 hrs of production.
Now that you’ve found your Takt Time, you can put this information together with your other production metrics like Cycle Time and Lead Time.
As much as possible, your Cycle Time needs to match your Takt Time. If the Cycle Time is faster or slower than the Takt Time, then you are at risk of over or under-producing. As your demand fluctuates, adjust your Cycle Time accordingly.
Although Lead Time does not need to match the other two metrics, it is an excellent way to track your customers’ experience. Once this is understood, you can find creative ways to get your Takt time, Cycle Time, and Lead Time working together.
Takt Time is central to the idea of Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing. The idea of JIT is to maximize the use of time before the point of delivery. If a product is finished behind schedule, then the company's time and resources are not managed effectively.
If a product is finished ahead of schedule, then there is strong reason to believe that the business did not utilize the available time to the fullest. There could have been time to improve the process or product. This also indicates that they pushed their resources and workforce harder than they needed to, resulting in little gain for the company or the customer.
From here we can see that it is extremely beneficial for companies to understand how demand affects their production schedule. Tracking Takt Time is one of the most effective ways of doing this. Companies that understand and are responsive to the “pulse” of their business are better able to optimize their production schedule.