Cut Down Wastes with Takt Time Production
There are many types of waste within a facility, and many different things that can contribute to that waste. For most facilities, one of the biggest causes of waste is improper planning on the production line. In some cases, the line will produce products too slowly, which is inefficient, and can upset customers. In other cases, products are produced too quickly, which is a waste of resources. In addition, too much of a specific item may be produced, which is yet another form of waste.
One great way to dramatically cut down on waste associated with the production line is to implement the lean manufacturing takt time production standards.
What is Takt Time Production?
To put it simply, takt time production is a concept that helps the production line to produce products at the rate that the customers need them. It can be written out like this:
The more accurately you can predict the production time, and the more consistent customer demand is, the better you can use this type of production planning to reduce waste. Of course, even in situations where you don’t have the most accurate numbers, this system can still be quite useful.
Benefits of Takt Time Production
The main benefit of takt time production is going to be that your production line is operating more efficiently. There will be less waste, and it will be easier to predict the amounts of products you are producing each shift. The following are some of the key benefits that your facility will likely enjoy, and how this type of production planning will produce them.
- Reduces Over Production – One common issue with selling products to customers is that you typically have to have a set amount produced and ready to ship in order to quickly satisfy demand. With this type of production planning, you can produce more as needed, which reduces the amount of inventory you need to store.
- Manages Overtime – Since you will be producing products on a more consistent basis, you won’t be going through the cycle of needing people to work overtime one week, and then not having enough work the next. This can often reduce the overall expenses related to the labor.
- Easier Planning – It is much easier to plan out your shift requirements and production needs when you have a more stable production schedule.
- Fewer Errors – When you are rushing to get production done quickly, it may lead to product errors. When you are on a more consistent schedule, the error rate often goes down significantly.
- Improved Price Management – One of the big problems that come up when you over produce products so they are ready is that you occasionally have to drop your price to reduce inventory (during product changes or updates, for example). With takt time production, this is not as much of a concern so you don’t need to adjust the prices.
Your facility will, of course, have additional benefits that are specific to your situation. Keeping track of production rates and other stats is a great way to monitor exactly how your facility is benefiting from this type of production planning.
How to Implement Takt Time Production
You can’t simply implement takt time production without some planning and information gathering ahead of time. If you try to rush through this initial stage, you’ll end up running into a lot of problems, and often actually increasing the amount of waste in your facility during the transition.
Instead, take your time to really plan it out and get everything properly into place before making any changes. The first thing you should do is gather together the following pieces of data so you can use them to customize the rest of the implementation process:
- Average Customer Orders – Knowing how many of each product you produce your customers tend to order is very important. This should be broken down based on historical data. Looking, for example, at monthly or even weekly trends is very important.
- Due Dates – In addition to knowing how much of each product your customers will order, you also want to know the approximate due dates you can expect. Some customers, for example, may order well in advance of their need so you will have more flexibility. Others may wait until the last minute.
- Ideal Production Rate – Understanding how many products per hour/shift you can produce without sacrificing quality is essential. This will help you with scheduling and meeting goals.
- Sick/Vacation Trends – In most areas the amount of sick days and vacation days taken go up and down based on seasonal trends. Know these trends so you can better plan out your staffing.
There will also be other pieces of data that are specific to your facility, which you can use to help improve the planning and implementation of takt time production.
Another essential part of this type of production planning is ensuring everyone is following the same production methods. Coming up with a set of standards that everyone can follow will help ensure you can accurately predict the number of products that you can produce per shift.
Take some time to review how each job in the facility is done, and then create some best practices that everyone should follow. This can take quite some time to complete, but it will be well worth the effort in the end.
Once you have all the data in place, and the best practices planned out, you will need to provide proper training to your employees. Getting all the employees to understand what takt time production is, and what their role will be is very important.
Make sure you point out the benefits that they will enjoy from this new process. Things like more predictable schedules and more consistent work are typically very appealing to the employees.
In addition, train them on the new processes that you expect them to follow. During this time you can also introduce the process by which employees can make recommendations on how to improve existing best practices. This will help get a system in place for constant improvement within the facility. Having this system will also keep people from just doing things their own way because they think it is better.
Activation and Evaluation
Once everyone has been trained, you will want to start operating based on the takt time production standards. While at this point you will have successfully implemented the takt time production system in your facility. This does not, however, mean that the job is done.
At this point you will want to begin gathering as much data as possible, and observe how the work is being done. In most cases you will notice that there are some small things that can be tweaked or improved. Taking the time to really analyze the data you are able to collect and make adjustments as needed will help improve the long term success of this type of production.
Even if things seem to be going smoothly, you can almost always find ways to improve the production in your facility and reduce waste even further.
For anyone outside of the Lean manufacturing realm, moonshine has a whole different meaning. However for those that do go to work everyday in a Lean based facility, a moonshine event might just be the best part of their job.
What is Moonshine?
Moonshine is not for everyone (no matter how you define it). It is intended for the those who are seasoned Lean and Kaizen practitioners who have a knack for creativity. The process of the moonshine was developed by Mr. Chihiro Nakao, founder of Shingijutsu Consulting company and considered by many to be the greatest production engineer on the planet. Mr. Nakao, now known as the Father of Moonshine, defines moonshine on is website as this:
Moonshine means developing valuable solutions to problems by creatively adapting materials that are already on hand. It requires looking at those materials and the problems themselves with a renewed perspective of doing a lot with a little.
Focus of the Moonshine
- Emphasis on creativity, using only materials that are directly available. ‘Doing a lot with a little.’
- Encourage experimentation, using simulations, prototyping, and trials to explore and inspire. ‘Try-storming.’
- Collaboration and observation of how peers work.
- Get out of the typical workspace. A change of scenery can help stimulate new ideas.
- Little to no structure helps the flow of creativity flowing smoothly.
- Leader enabled, but not directed.
The term ‘try-storming’ is heard a lot during a moonshine event and is a key part of the process. It’s means that in order to commit to a particular process, one must do anything and everything possible including testing, simulating, modeling, prototyping and experimenting the process. The belief is that this type of physical research is not possible anywhere else and will lead to ideas that were previously impossible to think of –learn by doing.
Moonshine in Action
Toyota may be the king of all that is Lean, but the commercial airline manufacturer Boeing is making a name for itself in Lean manufacturing with its “Moonshine Wars.” Boeing has been a considered a Lean manufacturing company for years and can credit a large amount of their success to these self titled “Moonshine Wars.”
The annual competition is a gathering of the best of the best that Boeing has. Teams gather from all over and participate in a two week competition where some of the biggest manufacturing problems Boeing has are presented as the challenge. The team with the best presentation at the end of the two weeks wins that year’s prize, but more importantly the glory of being a “Moonshine War” champion.
These competitions have led to countless innovations for the company. From production processes to design concepts on the new 787 Dreamliner, there commitment to Lean and continuous improvement is highlighted during their friendly battles. “Moonshine Wars” not only instill a belief that anything can be improved, but more importantly put the value of the company in the hands of the ones on the front lines, allowing them lead the way to the next big thing for the company.
So the next time you get on a 737 or catch a ride on the new 787 Dreamliner, you can be assured that Moonshine helped in the production of the plane you’re on. Again, for the non-Lean enthusiast this might not sound assuring, but trust me it’s a good thing.
Here’s a great short video that gives a look into GE’s version of ‘moonshining.’ They used the Lean philosophy to design the most efficient factory design possible using everything from cardboard barrels to Lego toys.
Connection To Prohibition?
As noted above, the Lean version of moonshine has nothing to do with alcohol, but there is a connection. During the time of prohibition, individuals were left with no choice but to make their own liquor. They had to come up with the most creative ways possible, using only what they had. Seeing how this was an illegal act, it meant staying up until the wee hours of the morning making their moonshine. The early pioneers used whatever materials they could get their hands on and had to be very creative in developing different methods of not only making moonshine, but transporting it too. This combination of creativity and resourcefulness is where the modern Lean version of moonshine is derived from.