How does Takt time work in project management?
Every business wants to be able to meet its customers’ demands. To do so, project managers must focus on optimized workflows, increased productivity, and the time it takes to deliver projects.
Takt time is a powerful tool that lets project managers know the exact production rate of a project, helping businesses avoid running out of time or resources and better serve customer needs.
This article is your ultimate guide to takt time—what it is, how to calculate it, its benefits to your organization, and how to apply it.
What is Takt Time?
Takt time is the rate at which you must complete a product to meet customer demand. Takt time is crucial to project managers as it enables them to eliminate over or under-production. With this metric, project managers can increase quality control standards and meet customer demands.
The term Takt originates from Germany and means “pulse.” Like the heart rate, takt time can be high or low compared to customer demand.
How to Calculate Takt Time
A business must know the exact takt time of its product to avoid wasting it. Luckily, calculating takt time is relatively simple.
To calculate takt time, divide the available production time by customer demand. Available production time is the time required to build a product from start to finish. This time doesn’t include workers’ breaks, shift changeovers, and scheduled maintenance.
To better understand how to calculate takt time, let’s use an example:
A company producing balls has customers that demand 400 balls per day.
Now let’s imagine workers at the company work 8 hours (or 480 minutes) in a shift.
- Take 30 minutes for lunch,
- 30 minutes for breaks,
- 10 minutes for a team briefing, and
- 10 minutes for basic maintenance checks.
Their available production time = 480 – 30 – 30 – 10 – 10 = 400 minutes.
To find the company’s takt time:
400 (production time)/400 (customer demand) = 1 minute.
This means that the company needs to produce one ball per minute to meet its customers’ demands.
Benefits of Takt Time
Takt time comes with a wealth of benefits:
- By understanding how much production time a company needs to meet customer needs, it can find appropriate task scheduling, planning, and execution methods. This way, project managers can focus on the areas that need the most improvement to achieve their takt time.
- Project managers utilize their resources efficiently to improve productivity and reach a specific time goal.
- Customer demands go up and down all the time. By using takt time, project managers can accurately forecast their teams’ output and align it to customer demand. This saves businesses time and money on wasted output.
- Takt time guides project managers on where to invest more or less time as a team. In addition, teams can focus on value-added work reducing waste.
- Bottlenecks are quicker to identify as you can easily see what’s slowing the production line.
- Constant production flows and standardized work processes.
- Set realistic time goals.
- Minimized worker overtime
- Reduced errors and increased product or service quality.
Limitations of Takt Time
Takt time, just like any other project management tool, does have its limitation as well. Consider the following disadvantages:
- One station can halt an entire line.
- The shorter the takt time, the higher the likelihood of injury and machine breakdowns as workers rush to beat time.
- When calculating takt time, it’s challenging to consider unpredictable variables such as bathroom breaks.
- Project managers must restructure production lines as customer demand increases to accommodate shorter takt time.
Comparing Takt, Cycle & Lead time
Many project managers tend to confuse Takt Time, Cycle Time, and Lead Time. However, these time-measurement strategies are quite different.
As already defined, takt time is the time required to finish a product to meet customer demand. On the other hand, cycle time is the time teams spend actively working on a customer order. It starts when the actual work begins on the product and ends when it is ready for delivery. Lead time is the time it takes from the moment the organization receives an order to the time it’s delivered.
Using an example, let’s look at the difference between cycle and lead time:
Your company receives a customer order on April 8. The company receives the order instantly and delivers the product on April 12, yet work on the product begins on April 10. Therefore, the lead time here is four days, while the cycle time is two days. However, it’s important to note that cycle time calculates effort, and therefore, you could have a cycle time of two days, but your team actually spends two hours actively working to produce the product ordered.
Project managers should track these three metrics as they’re vital key performance indicators of a company’s workflow.
Knowing the exact time your team needs to meet customer demands allows you to design a production system that provides continuous flow and value for the customer. This system optimizes your team’s capacity, minimizes waste, and increases your product’s quality.
Additionally, takt time enables you to avoid overproduction and thus optimize storage costs. By monitoring your takt time, you can tell when to reorganize activities to fit into your current takt time.
A project management tool like Mission Control can make calculating your takt time and optimizing your team’s capacity easier. With features like timesheets, you can quickly see how much time your team spends on actual work, which is an important metric when calculating takt time. Other features such as Kanban boards make managing your team’s workloads easier across active projects.