Greg Epp

Building Better Manufacturers

What is Takt time?

What is “takt” time?

Takt was originally derived from the Latin word tactus meaning touch, sense of touch, feeling. Since the 16th century, the word has been incorporated into modern languages differently. For our purposes in understanding lean manufacturing,  let’s refer to the German translation meaning ‘rhythm’ or ‘cadence’. Think of the metronome or a clock tick tock-ing; It’s the rhythm in which work gets done. It sets the pace of the shop floor and is key to creating a smooth workflow in your process. Understanding takt is one way to better maximize your capacity.

Why is this important?

The takt, or pulse, creates a smooth flow. Any operation not conforming to this flow will instantly show itself as less efficient. The vehicle assembly line is a great example of takt time. As the vehicle passes through each station, there is a limited amount of time allotted in each zone to complete the given tasks for that cell. Any issues or a failure to complete the work in the given time prevents the vehicle from being ready to move on. An alarm, light, or signal can be sent to a team leader who can spring into action to correct the problem.

The benefits of implementing takt

Takt time is useful from an operational standpoint for many reasons. In addition to drawing attention to potential bottlenecks in production, it provides a useful metric for calculating an assembly lines output. Many branches of the business benefit from this knowledge. Sales can use takt time to accurately predict delivery times for customers. Furthermore,  predictable on-time delivery benefits accounting, payroll, and human resources operations as well as customer satisfaction. Predictable cash flow benefits all branches of your company.

How to Calculate Takt time

Production time available divided by the number of parts required = Takt time

Production Time = working time available – brakes, shift change, clean up, etc

For example:

Time: 8 Hours x 60 Minutes – breaks = 430 minutes

Production time: 430 min

Customer Demand in 8 Hours: 50 Pcs

Takt time: 430 / 50 = 8.6 min per Pcs

How do I implement Takt time?   

If you are building a production line from the ground up, the task can be fairly straightforward. Let’s use the above example of 8.6 minutes per part in takt time.  This means that no single operating cell or station can take longer than 8.6 min to complete its tasks before the line moves on. Knowing this beforehand can help you determine what equipment and manpower will be needed in each cell as well as how many cells will be required.

If you are adding takt to an existing line, the process is a little more complicated. First, if you have not clearly defined the working cells, it’s important to do so. You can then measure each cells production time. This is where the theory of constraints, or TOC, comes in. Using this tool, you will quickly see what cells are taking the most time (your constraint). Now, the process of breaking the constraint comes into play. By shifting resources, eliminating waste, and improving processes, you speed the cell up until it’s no longer the constraint. Through constant improvement, eventually, each cell will more or less be operating at your takt time of 8.6 min per part.

Real life examples of Takt time   

While touring the Trumpf laser facility in Switzerland, I saw the best example of Takt time. Trumpf produces some of the worlds best high-quality laser cutting, forming, laser welding, and tube lasers in the world.  These machines are extremely complicated and have thousands of components that are manufactured all over Europe.  When you first look at one, you might think it would take weeks, or even months, to be made. I was shocked to find out that one is loaded onto a truck and shipped to a customer every 2.5 hours. The phrase “like a Swiss watch” is no joke. There was a live clock on the floor for all to see that showed the Takt time as the seconds counted down to the next move.  

Each machine was stationed on a set of rails.  Every 2.5 hrs (their takt time), every machine would move to the next station.  But the real brilliance of this system reveals itself was when there is a problem. Any cell operator could call for assistance. If something was taking to long, a worker was missing parts, or there was some other kind of manufacturing issue, their Cell number would be highlighted on the main screen and a lead hand would have 3 minutes to find out what’s wrong. All resources would be sent to this location to fix the problem ASAP.  If the problem could not be fixed, the entire machine would be pulled from the line.

By incorporating visual signals (the board) and showing the real takt time, problems with cells become extremely clear and can be dealt with quickly.  Manufacturing processes can be extremely complicated and overwhelming at times. This is especially true when things are going wrong.  This simple concept, takt time, can have your facility running like a swiss watch in no time.                              

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Written by Greg Epp

Greg Epp

I am the owner of Adventure Marine Manufacturing Inc. and currently spend my time building my business and bringing awareness to companies about the advantages of restoring or improving their current manufacturing capabilities.

A red seal certified Millwright, experienced welder, machinist, and fabricator, I have over 17 years of trades experience in many sectors including automotive parts manufacturing, mining, sawmills, construction, custom metal fabrication, and CNC machining.

A former member in good standing of the Canadian Forces, I proudly served as a paratrooper in the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s light infantry – overcoming huge physical and psychological barriers.

A professional leader and team player, I am always looking for a new obstacle to overcome. I’m passionate about improving manufacturing and would like to help solve your greatest challenges.

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  1. Super S Keto December 20, 2018

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a good
    article? but what can I say? I procrastinate a lot and never seem
    to get nearly anything done.

  2. Super S Keto December 20, 2018

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a good article?

    but what can I say? I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

    • gregepp December 21, 2018 — Post author

      wow thanks, it has not even been edited properly yet. Are there any topics you would be interested in learning more about? In regards to manufacturing.

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