Lean Management

Lean Learnings # 6 – Why Takt time must be considered ‘Pure’

Over time I have seen may organisations try and put their interpretation on takt time. Most try to put some form of ‘fudge factor’ into the calculation. This is normally so they can accommodate and ‘efficiency ratio’ or some form of equipment efficiency measure. But why do they do this?

Well most of the time it is because the organisation has completely missed the point of using takt time as a tool. Most understand that takt time is the ‘beat of the customer’, but few really understand that is is also a measure of waste within the process.

It’s also an Abnormality management tool………..

Used properly it is very easy to understand the cost of stoppages, for example, if our production line is planned to run for 40 hours and produce 2400 units (takt time = 60 seconds) but we only produced 2000 units, then we have a loss of 400 units. it is very easy to see we would have to run 400 minutes overtime to catch back. This in turn we can attribute a true cost to.  But the reality is that it makes little sense to add cost to the process in this way. So we have to consider another alternative.

Within the Takt time calculation the key phrase is ‘Available time’. It is quite acceptable  to include ‘Planned down-time’ into the calculation so long as it is planned ahead of time.

So we could choose to build into the calculation and amount of time for maintenance and TPM activities to that when we run the process during the planned up-time we can measure the success of our TPM and maintenance.

This is why companies like Toyota do not generally run 3 shift operations. They choose to spend time each day working on preventative maintenance so that when the bulk of the manpower is on site, the lines run to pure takt time. That way they can look for not only at the quality of the equipment maintenance, but also look for small incremental losses. The trick is to have a very good capture system and have the infrastructure to put into place good countermeasures.

The moment you add ‘fudge factors’ into the calculation you are sending the message that some inefficiencies are OK and you loose the ability to put pressure on the organisation to find and fix its inherent abnormalities.

So before you try to make up your own takt time rules, think about the message you are sending and is there a way you can organise the operation in a different way to drive people to improve and look for small losses.

‘Selling’ 5S to the workforce.

Anybody that has introduced 5S as a concept to the mass ranks of an organisation will know how difficult it can be.  ‘Another flavour of the month’, ‘another thing to fit in’ and ‘when am i supposed to do this’ are amongst the many cries that can come back. But why is this?

The most common mistake organisations make in introducing 5S is failing to link it to the overall message of Lean and Waste removal. All too
often 5S is introduced as a stand alone program with the workplace organisation as its only supporting benefit.

In this case, it is a difficult sell. Leaving only the precise tools and equipment required in an area to perform a specific task, does not go down well when breakdowns and random quality issues are the norm and little is being done to fix them. The majority of people want to do a good
job for the company and keep the process moving, so it is natural for people to want to keep a few spare parts just in case.

In order to succeed 5S needs to be seen as more that just a house keeping tool. It needs to be linked to the bigger picture and to the overall waste identification process. After all that is what it actually is.

So when you are teaching 5S, explain it in those terms. The 1st and 2nd ‘S’ are aimed at setting the process out in such a way that abnormality can be seen quickly. The 3rd and 4th ‘S’ are aimed at trying to look for deeper issues and how a process can be further improved. And finally the 5th ‘S’ is actually all about the entire organisation working to make the process happen.

Also remember, that when a 5S audit is undertaken, it is not really the score that is important (although it does have a place), it is the small opportunities that the team see to improve.


If you would like to know more about 5S why not sign up for the free Kaizentrainer 5S course at


Or read ‘Tools for success’ By Barry Jeffrey and Graham Ross


10 skills of a good leader

1.       Workng  with Passion

Most leaders do not really have a passion for the products they produce or for what their organisations really stand for. But you only have to look at leaders like Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Michael Dell to see the power of the passion they all have for their businesses. People within an organisation look to its leadership for direction, belief in the process and guidance. In order to be a good lean leader you need to display passion for what you are doing.

2.       Communicating openly and often

Good leaders convey their belief in the organisation through such actions as attending Kaizen events, visiting customers and opening up direct channels of communication with the workforce. They take time to listen and discuss possible improvements to the process and focus on sending positive messages in a relentless manner

3.       Creating a sense of urgency

In the ever growing global market place and  ever growing threat from competitors, the truth is that no company really needs  to create a sense of urgency. The Job of a good leader is to harness this and  make sure that employees fully understand the gravity of remaining stagnant and  not improving.

4.       Focusing on the Future, not the past

Companies and employees all too often dwell on past failures or rest on past success. A good leader has the ability to look  to the future and begin turning from analysis of the past, to focusing on  finding innovative solutions for customers needs.

5.       Developing good leaders for the future

The ability to take time to find, groom,  train and motivate new leaders for the organisation is a key skill. Thinking to  the future and trengthening the organisation will in the long term underpin  the improvement activities.

6.       Focusing on your customers

Good leaders develop a strong bond with the  customer base. They take time to visit and discuss ideas and issues first hand;  Building up a strong level of trust and teamwork.

7.       Measuring your success

The development of a simple cohesive measurement system that can be easily understood by people in the organisation  at all levels is a core fundamental that a good leader will ensure is  developed. The system must identify metrics that are linked to the strategic goals  and capture the effects of changes to the process. Locally teams must be able  to collect, analyse and develop countermeasures by themselves.

8.       Maintain discipline and focus

After the ‘flavour of the month’ period wears off, employees tend to slip back into old habits all to easily.  Sustaining drive going forward is something a good leader must focus on. Arranging  regular reviews, daily, weekly, and monthly to check the organisations performance in vital to keep the company on track.

9.       Walk the talk

Good leaders to not manage from the office.  They have a high profile in process. Getting involved and demonstrating they  are full committed to the success of the organisation.


10.   Promoting Continuous Improvement daily

Good leaders promote continuous improvement at  every opportunity. They convey the message that every part of a process can be improved, not matter how many times the process has been studied in the past.  Good leaders praise successes whilst demanding further improvements tomorrow.


Kaizentrainer on Linkedin

Did you know that Kaizentrainer has a Linkedin Group ?

Are you a member of the linkedin community ?

if you are, and you are not already a member why not join the group.

The group is dedicated discussing and sharing training materials and ideas and is open to all that have a interest in Lean and continuous Improvement.

Just look for the Kaizentrainer group within Linkedin.

Standing in a Circle

Here’s a simple way of getting you team leaders to see the waste in their area, based on a technique used by Taiichi Ohno.

Give them a sheet with the titles of the seven wastes on it.

Draw a circle on the floor with a piece of chalk (or simply make a spot it that’s not practical)

Ask them to turn off mobile phones and radios

Then ask them to ‘stand in the circle’ for 10 minutes and observe the operation, looking for examples of each of the wastes. get them to write down what they see.

Then ask them to come and explain what they have seen. Once they have done this, ask them to fix just one!

Keep repeating this over a few weeks, this will start to condition individuals to look at their areas in a different way. It’s amazing how much they will see.

Simple but effective