Takt time, Cycle time and Lead time are 3 notions that are interconnected. Initially, we'll present each one separately, to better understand what each one means. Further, we'll present practical examples to clarify the connections between them.
Also, you can download a free Takt time calculator, as well as a free Cycle time calculator.
Takt time is the concept that defines the optimal production rate for an item, so as to meet customer expectations. So, the unit of measurement for Takt time is seconds per unit.
This dimension is of utmost importance in the production lines. Especially when items go through multiple stations, where each of them performs a certain set of predefined tasks. But, in a business environment Takt time can be used on most tasks. For example, in administration, control tasks, or manufacturing.
For instance, if not properly adjusted, one of the two situations may occur:Takt time may be adjusted according to various factors. To illustrate, we can list requirements within the company, daily working time, downtimes on machines. But, once settled, the production needs to be executed within the established takttime. Therefore, measures will have to be taken immediately. For instance, supplementing the resources or adjusting the demand or even rethinking the production process.
Noteworthy: the Total available working time per day will be expressed in seconds.
As formulated above, the Total available working time per day means net workingtime. Therefore, lunch breaks, meetings, or interruptions caused by unscheduled downtime are not included. So, the Total available working time per day that will be included in the Takt time formula, results from the following calculation:(the number of shifts per day x the number of seconds per shift)  (scheduled breaks + average daily setup and maintenance time + average daily unscheduled downtime)
Takt Time calculation is the most important factor that shows whether you can keep up with your customer
demand.
For this reason, it is very important to decide from the beginning whether to include, or not, some estimated
downtime.
Anyway, in both situations, it is necessary to take measures that will adjust the effects and that will cause
additional costs.
Of course, production with perfectly stable processes and completely balanced flow would be the ideal
situation.
However, in practice, it is almost impossible to avoid unforeseen situations.
For this reason, the calculations can take into account an estimated average time of possible interruptions.
For Cycle time definition there are several variants and they can all be correct considering the variables
involved. Thus, in production the definition refers to the average amount of time for the full execution of an
item.
Therefore, this period starts when the procedure of production begins and it ends when the item is complete.
If we take into account the Cycle time definition, the Cycle time formula is very simple and clear:
This calculates the actual working time for the realization of an item. Therefore, it has to be measured from the beginning of the working process to the completion of the item
But, in the same respect, another approach can be applied, namely:To begin with, an important thing to take into account is the nonworking time. So, are these hours included or not included in the Cycle time formula?
In most cases, Average Cycle time is calculated therefore also an average amount of nonworking hours are included. Also, for an exact calculation it is recommended to exclude nonworking hours. However, this should also be done depending on how the other two “ times” are calculated.
However, it would be ideal for these two times to be equal, to have the same duration. As a result, this would mean that the production executed is in perfect compliance with your client’s demand. But, in practice, things are unlikely to happen that way. Therefore, we will also encounter situations such as:
Moreover, both situations create additional problems and costs. Consequently, during the production process, the balance between the two must be always maintained as good as possible.
Cycle time is a vital component of Lead time. Consequently, the better the Cycle time, the better the Lead
time.
Also, taking into account that the three components are interconnected, we come to the conclusion that:
The more realistic is the Takt time set and shorter the Cycle time, the better the Lead time will become.
Consequently, this will lead to guaranteed customer satisfaction, which is always a goal in business.
A general Lead time definition is the elapsed time from the initialization to the completion of a process. Consequently, in addition to the production process itself, Lead time definition also includes other time intervals.
Depending on the industry in which it is applied, Lead time meaning may be different.
Lead time meaning is related to all the independent or interdependent tasks within the same project.
It includes all the time elapsed from when the subject was received until the delivery of the article.
It goes from issuing the order to the supplier until the goods are delivered. Therefore, by taking into account:
It includes the time required to
Therefore, to calculate manufacturing lead time we’ll have to make the sum of all the elements included, which means:
Lead time and especially its connections with the concepts of Takt time and Cycle time can greatly improve
the efficiency of your activity and boost productivity.
For example, the Cycle time should be kept as close to Takt time as possible and Cycle time optimization
will automatically lead to Lead time improvement.
Reducing Lead time improves productivity which automatically results in increased revenues.
Now that we know what each of the 3 different times means, let's deepen the explanations with practical
examples.
This will help you understand and design your processes in a more efficient manner. As a result, you will meet
your customer’s demands better.
As we said, this one is a value you have to calculate. It describes the rhythm at which you need to produce each item, to meet customer requirements. Thus, we may say that expresses the theoretical demand rate of your customer.
Takt time calculation involves dividing our available production time by the number of items our customer needs.
First, we’ll assume the following work schedule: 20 days a month, one shift a day, 7.5 hours a shift. In this situation, we will have an available production time of 150 hours, which means 540,000 seconds per month.
Accordingly, to meet our customer demand, we’ll have to produce one item every 27 seconds, at a minimum. That, of course, if we take into account ideal production conditions. Meaning, in the situation where everything works perfectly and we will not have any seconds of downtime.
But, let’s face it, we all know that things don't always work as we planned. Therefore, it would be wiser to
run
a bit faster than our Takt time and allow for some downtime.
However, that doesn't mean we're preparing for the worst. On the contrary, it means that we will be able to meet
the delivery deadline even if something unforeseen occurs. Therefore, we choose to produce at a rate of 24
seconds/item. This will be the targeted Cycle time.
Download your free Takt time calculator
As we know from the Cycle time definition, this is the rhythm at which you are actually producing the item. To measure the frequency of items produced, we need to track the time between the completion of two items. Therefore, the period it takes from the output of one item to the output of the next item.
Let's refer to the previous example. The time we had to produce each item to meet our customer demand was 27 seconds. This way, if we produce an item at 24 seconds, we'll definitely fit into the 27 second Takt time. Besides, this will be possible even if there'll be some unforeseen problems that will involve downtime.
Download your free Cycle time calculator
As we already know, this is another dimension of the rhythm of our production process. It’s about how long it
takes one item to make its way through your operation front to end.
To find out this interval we need to track the time for one item through the entire process. That is since it
has entered the operation until it leaves the last step.
Let's suppose your small company produces personalized FlowerCards. This is an operation that requires 3 worksteps. As a result, your company has allocated 3 employees, one for each Step.
We assume that from Client M you have an order of 36,000 items a month.
As we said, the Takt time formula represents the available time divided by items needed. Thus, first of all, we need to calculate the available production time.
Similar to the anterior example, let’s suppose that your company runs:Therefore, you’ll have 540,000 seconds available production time in a month.
Accordingly, we can make the Takt time calculation: So, we need to divide 540,000 seconds by the number of items ordered. In your case, this is 36,000. Consequently, we’ll reach the result of 15 seconds.This means you will need to produce 1 item every 15 seconds. And this, your company has to do for 20 days a month, during the daily 7.5 hours shift. This is the minimum rhythm, necessary to meet your customer demand. This is your Takt time for Client M’s order.
Now, let’s suppose you timed the frequency with which an item is produced and obtained an average of 13 seconds.
Certainly, with this Cycle time, you will meet your customer demand. This is because your operation will produce an item every 13 seconds and your customer demands was 15 seconds.
Client M’s order 

Preparing  Step 1  Laminating  Step 2  Packing  Step 3 
“A” Employee  “B” Employee  “C” Employee 
he puts the customization element on the Flowercard, then both in foil for lamination  passing the wrapped customized Flowercard through the laminating machine  inserting the laminated Flowercard in its envelope 
Calculated Takt time 15 sec.  
Measured Cycle time 13 sec  
Step 1 Cycle time = 6 sec.  Step 2 Cycle time = 13 sec.  Step3 Cycle time = 6 sec. 
Now, we can see that the “Laminating” is slower than “Preparing” and “Packing”. Of course, overall we fit into the calculated Takt time. But, because step 2 is slower, a lot of inventory will accumulate before it. This is because the Step 1 employee prepares the cards faster than the Step 2 employee can laminate.
To improve this process, you could, for example, combine the first and the last step and still meet Takt time. 6 sec + 6 sec = 12 seconds, is still smaller than your Takt time which was calculated at 15 seconds.
This requires Employee A to do Step 1 and then Step 2. That is, he has to put the customization element on the
Flowercard and both in foil for lamination. After this, he has to put the previous laminated Flowercard in the
envelope.
This will create a good balance between the work of the two employees. Moreover, there is no need for employee C
to work on this project, which certainly leads to cost reductions.
Client M’s order, cost reduction 

Preparing  Step 1  Laminating  Step 2  Packing  Step 3 
“A” Employee  “B” Employee  “A” Employee 
he puts the customization element on the Flowercard, then both in foil for lamination  passing the wrapped customized Flowercard through the laminating machine  inserting the laminated Flowercard in its envelope 
Calculated Takt time 15 sec.  
Measured Cycle time 13 sec  
Step 1 Cycle time = 6 sec.  Step 2 Cycle time = 13 sec.  Step3 Cycle time = 6 sec. 
So, let’s suppose you did just that. Thus, you have improved the production process and significantly reduced costs. Precisely for this reason, you receive another order from Customer P. He wants 36,000 items a month, each one completed in 30 seconds.
Therefore, you now have to produce 36,000 items per month for Client M, and 36,000 items for Client P. Specifically, that means 72,000 articles in total. As a result, you have a much higher workload and you need to calculate a new Takt time for this amount.
In this situation, for the 3 Steps of the operation, you will have to double the number of employees. This means that you will allocate 2 employees for each Step. And, since the workflow presented above is efficient, it would be advisable to keep it. Therefore, you will create 2 work units, each one will be made up of Employee A + Employee B. And each employee will perform the steps set out above, namely:
Client M + Client P orders 

UNIT 1  UNIT 2 
“A” Employee: Step1 Preparing + Step3 Packing “B” Employee: Step 2 Laminating  “A” Employee: Step1 Preparing + Step3 Packing “B” Employee: Step 2 Laminating 
Now, you need to measure the interval in which your operation produces an item. As before, each one of your 2 units produces one item every 13 seconds. That means your operations produce 2 items in 13 seconds. Therefore, for each item, the Cycle time is 6.5 seconds. Consequently, it falls within the Takt time of 7.5 seconds
Now let's see what is the Lead time for your item. This way you will know for sure if for
example Client P, will receive his item in 30 seconds, exactly as requested.
As we said before, this is a measurable size, so you will need to track the time for 1 item through the entire
process. The result is 21 seconds, and that is enough to meet Customer P’s expectations.
Anyway, if your Lead time is more than 30 seconds, then you’ll need to take action. You can review the entire operation process, to see where the inventory is accumulated.
Knowing these temporal dimensions of the production process helps us take the necessary measures to ensure the maximum performance of our production operation and to easily meet our customers' expectations.