For some manufacturers, the concept of “takt time” is a bit ambiguous. On a basic level, takt time is defined as the maximum amount of time allowed for average unit production if demand is to be met. On a broader level, however, a full understanding of “takt time” can be used to improve and streamline both operations and the overall efficiency of an entire production line.

In this post, we’re going to break down the idea of takt time, exploring some of the ways in which it can be used as a tool to drive manufacturing efficiency.

What is Takt Time?

When translated directly from the German, the word takt means pulse, hinting at the ways in which it can be used to ensure consistency in production and resource allocation across a variety of manufacturing processes.

In a nutshell, “takt time” is the maximum amount of time allowed for unit production in order to meet customer demand. It is an average measurement based on the amount of time between the beginning of the production of a single unit and the start of production on the next unit when production is tailored to match the pace of customer demand.

Confused? Let’s look at a practical example. Suppose that you are responsible for managing the operations of an outdoor footwear manufacturer. One of your retail customers requires 100 pairs of hiking boots per week. Given this demand, in order to meet the client quota over a period of one 40-hour week, the average production time per unit should be 0.4 hours (24 minutes), which is equivalent to 100 units produced per 40 hours.

In this scenario, takt time is 24 minutes. It is the hypothetical measure of the amount of time your factory has to dedicate to each unit’s production, given the constraints of customer demand. It is calculated simply by dividing the amount of time available to work over a given period by the number of required units.

How does takt time relate to lean manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is an approach based on the goal of diminishing waste. When properly implemented, the use of takt time limits waste by aligning company processes with actual demand. Where previously, manufacturers would store raw materials on the basis of predicted process improvements and demand fluctuations, takt time allows for the use of data from the market in determining ordering decisions.

One of the main reasons for calculating takt time is to reduce waste across all manufacturing processes. Because production is evaluated against a standard measure, specific points in the production line that are operating below the required standard can be easily targeted and remedied.

Calculating current production time begins by measuring individual cycle times (the time required to complete one “cycle” of a process) and gauging whether or not they are sufficient to meet demand. If, for instance, takt time is, as in the previous example, 0.4 hours per unit and current production time is 0.5 hours per unit, further resources would have to be allocated. This would indicate either a need for continuous improvement or an expansion of workforce and equipment.

How can B2B eCommerce help drive efficiency?

One of the issues inherent in measuring takt time involves reliably ascertaining customer demand over the near term. The advanced analytics tools that eCommerce platforms offer can go a long way in giving manufacturers the ability to accurately determine average customer demand, particularly in the context of seasonal fluctuations. The ready availability of organized data also means that manufacturers can make time-sensitive and fluid takt time calculations.

Integrated in-house eCommerce platforms, used by manufacturers to sell to their customers, also speed up the ordering process whilst reducing the need for human input by synchronizing with a host of other software applications and “smart” machines.

What are your thoughts about takt time? Let us know in the comments section below!