“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize. “
We know timing is everything! In both life and business, we know that when time is right, magical things happens. You have searched for the perfect product for months and something tells you to call Acme business to find it. When you call, they have one left and will hold it for you. Perfect timing! You fight mind-numbing traffic and arrive at the airport just in time to catch a flight. Prefect timing! Your restaurant runs a special on steaks for the evening, and the last one comes off the grill, served to the last customer of the evening. Perfect timing!
Timing is everything in life and in business. When the timing is off, it costs us valuable time, money and damages our reputation. This is especially true in manufacturing. Producing the right amount of product, with the highest quality possible, meeting customer demands without having excess. That is perfect timing!
The Value of Takt Time
Takt is a German word which refers to the beat of music. It can also refer to cycle, rhythm or repetition time. Sometimes it refers to the baton of an orchestra leader. Takt Time is the average time allowed between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit. These allowed times are set to match the rate of customer demand, based on the amount of available work time.
For example, if you have 8 hours of working time each day, and the customer demand is 16 items per day, then the takt time is 30 minutes.
8 hours per day / 16 items per day = 0.5 hours per item = 30 minutes
Therefore, every 30 minutes, one item should be completed. If you are not keeping up that pace, then it indicates that you will not likely meet your customer demand for the day. You can tell that you are off-track very quickly in the day, instead of being surprised at the end of the day.
If your process takes more than 30 minutes, then you will need to do one of two things: 1) reduce the cycle time to complete one item to less than 30 minutes, or 2) add more working time (people). It is preferred to reduce the time by eliminating waste in your process, as opposed to adding more people.
The perfect example of the use of Takt Time is in the war time manufacturing of Germany, Japan and the United States. Both sides implemented the theory of Takt Time to precisely manufacture and deliver wartime goods to their militaries, with the precise timing of those deliveries arriving exactly when there was demand. Both sides were exceptional at the practice of Takt Time. Fortunately for the United States, we enjoyed a production tempo that greatly outpaced our enemies. The power of American production was a great fear of both Germany and Japan in the months leading up to hostilities. They knew that America was a sleeping giant when it came to production, precision and innovation in the manufacturing processes.
When a manufacturing team tracks Takt Time, they have a heightened awareness of output rates and potential problems. They attempt to achieve the Takt Time on each cycle and immediately make necessary corrections.