Takt is the German word for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the tempo of the music. Takt time may be thought of as a measurable “beat time,” “rate time” or “heartbeat.” In Lean, takt time is the rate at which a finished product needs to be completed in order to meet customer demand. If a company has a takt time of five minutes, that means every five minutes a complete product, assembly or machine is produced off the line because on average a customer is buying a finished product every five minutes. The sell rate – every two hours, two days or two weeks – is the takt time.
Described mathematically, takt time is:
Available time for production / required units of production
It is important to note that the time available for production should reflect the total number of hours (or whatever units of time is used) employees work minus time spent on any breaks or meetings. Required units of production is a measure of customer demand – how many products a company expects its customer to buy in a given period of time. That period of time should be consistent between the two variables in the takt time equation (e.g., per day).
For example, a factory operates 1,000 minutes per day. Customer demand is 500 widgets units per day. The takt time, then, is:
1,000 / 500 = 2 minutes