Every production floor has a beat. When I walk into an assembly or production plant for the first time I can always sense it’s internal beat. You may not actually hear it bit it’s there and it’s a direct reflection of Takt time.
Takt time is, roughly speaking, the amount of time each process step has to take to meet customer demand. If a pizza shop is busy with customers at the noon hour, it’s Takt time must be very low (time to make a pizza) to keep up with customer demand. When customers leave and demand is reduced, Takt time can be increased (up to a point because I still want to eat in a reasonable amount of time).
In the dark days before Lean and Continuous Improvement, we responded to increased customer demand with more work stations, more equipment and more people. It was a reptilian response, we didn’t think much about the long term affects we just did it. By simply scaling up, it made us weaker. Customers are fickle, demand goes up and down all the time. If you’ve scaled up on a peak then you have an incredible burden when demand drops. The additional work stations and equipment are under-used and the employees may need to be laid off – horrible stuff.
When Lean and 5S are employed to reduce Takt time, your organization stays nimble. We reduce waste with Lean and 5S and by doing so the amount of time to perform a process is reduced – this reduces Takt time. You did it without scaling up, rather it was acheived at little or no expense. Now when demand invariably drops (hopefully temporarily) you can respond without drastic measure.
Your plant’s metronome (Takt Time) can now be adjusted easily to accommodate customer demand.
Takt Time, 5S, Lean