Using Takt Time and Cycle Time to Your Advantage

Takt time and cycle time
Takt time and cycle time
Takt time and cycle time

Using Takt Time and Cycle Time to Your Advantage

“Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage. The easiest of all wastes and the hardest to correct is the waste of time, because wasted time does not litter the floor like wasted material.” – Henry Ford

The manufacturing industry has steadily evolved from craft to mass production. Before the mid-20th century, hallmarks of mass production were large amounts of inventory, robotic assembly line workers, and a great deal of diversified waste. In the mid-20th century, Toyota pioneered a new way to think about manufacturing and a specific production strategy that would forever change the way businesses think about their products, their employees and their customers.

This new way of thinking is Lean Manufacturing or Lean Production. Two of the most important tools that support this thinking are takt time and cycle time. To explain takt and cycle time, let’s first explain Lean. “Lean is a manufacturing/production system best characterized as relentlessly eliminating waste from all of its’ activities and operations.” Lean strives to produce products and deliver services:

  • On-time;
  • Using as few resources as possible;
  • Better than competitors;
  • While eliminating as much waste as possible.

The fundamental principles of Lean work together to create both a mindset and a practical way to manufacture products, or deliver services, where the steady elimination of waste reveals more of the product’s value and ideally enriches the experience of the end-user.


“All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.” – Taiichi Ohno

Takt time can be described as the speed in which the product must be created in order to meet the entire customer order. In other words, Takt time equals the net time available for production. Takt time answers the question “what is the speed at which the product must be created to meet the customer order.”

Pankaj Aggarwal, Regional Director for the telecommunications company Indus Towers, explains that takt time is “more than a metric of time — it’s a whole different way of thinking about running operations.”

Aggarwal explains, “First, takt ensures that all the capacity in a business is planned, and utilized and still meets overall customer demand. By and large, takt will help to deliver the right product (RP) at the right time (RT) in the right quantity (RQ) to the customer. You can achieve RP, RT, and RQ without implementing takt; however, this could lead to much waste of man and machine.” Aggarwal continues, “Second, takt creates a constant pulse across your processes, which will immediately highlight capacity issues, synchronization issues among processes, quality issues and many others." Implementing takt time helps:

  • Estimate service delivery processes
  • Achieve a consistent flow of production
  • Eliminate the waste of overproduction by producing to meet actual customer demand
  • Encourage the development of standardized work instructions thus promoting quality and efficiency
  • Enable managers to set real time targets for production

Understanding and implementing takt time across the operational activities of a business is both an effective and efficient way to enhance business performance and meet evolving client need.

Calculating Takt Time

Takt time is calculated by dividing the available production time by the number of units a customer needs. Before doing this calculation, you must first subtract time used for breaks, meetings, maintenance, shift change etc.


A company must assemble 25 widgets in one 8 hour shift.

Total Time = 8 hours x 60 minutes = 480 minutes

Breaks = 90 minutes

Total Units = 25 widgets

Time Available = 390 minutes (480 minus 90)

Takt Time = 15.6 minutes

In this example, the takt time means that there should be one widget assembled every 15.6 minutes.

Advantages of Using Takt Time

There is no doubt that using takt time will help facilitate a smoother operation of your production line. It is also important to note that using takt time will spearhead the elimination of waste while also making it “easier to predict the amount of products being produced during each shift.” Following are some additional benefits of using takt time

  1. Keeps track of production rates
  2. Reduces over production
  3. Manages overtime
  4. Makes for easier planning
  5. Generates fewer errors
  6. Improves price management

Companies using principles of Lean Manufacturing spend a great deal of money and time planning out a production process before work for a client begins. Once the planning process is complete, and employees are trained on that process, operations begin based on the takt time production standards. When the job is complete, management can then evaluate the process and address any steps along the way which may need change or modification.

Cycle Time

”The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

Cycle time describes how long it takes to complete a specific task from start to finish. The task can be compiling a mailing, delivering a particular service, or assembling an engine. Cycle time can be measured with a stopwatch whereas takt-time can only be calculated.

Companies successfully employing Lean Manufacturing understand that consistent cycle times support delivering quality products and services on time. Consistent cycle times also reveal any glitches or problems in the system so managers can quickly initiate corrective action.

Successful practitioners of Lean understand how to use and employ the appropriate tools to make a difference for their organization and customers. By appropriately employing both takt time and cycle time, an organization can realize process improvement, enhanced operational activities and better meet customer needs.

Kettering Online's Innovative Master's Degree in Lean Manufacturing

The only program of its kind in the United States, Kettering University's online Lean Manufacturing master's degree program teaches the modern manufacturing process knowledge and Lean Six Sigma skills needed to improve quality output, streamline processes and reduce waste

The lean program at KUO truly enhances your skill set by learning to think lean. Lean thinking is a mindset and developing them here at KUO will promote you to apply it and make some strides in your career. The resources and learning materials have been revised and updated to include the latest research and methods. The methodologies learned will help you to bring about better efficiencies to your processes. The faculty are all well versed and continue to apply lean methodologies at their work and life to stay on a path of continuous improvement.