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  Arriving to the Optimal
Takt Time for your Factory

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Since I started my career as a consultant, in many cases I have found manufacturers with a mistaken view of their capacity or limitations. Some even believe they would need twice the space they really need to increase their product throughput.

Some basic concepts are necessary so we can drive on the same road to your success:
A fundamental principle is that
"what you do not measure you cannot control." That is the case in most companies that I visit. Most manufacturers have a very slim level of knowledge of their market’s needs and capacity. Some have never surveyed or researched their potential market. Sometimes I discover some opportunities that they have missed, that is exactly a key element of my job.
Metal-mechanics is an industry that has survived the crisis in a better way than other kinds of industries.  Though most plants have a very high percentage of waste, they still manage to get some profits. This industry has a factor of equipment aging that can be painful. Once they have a machine, the throughput is vital to get their ROI. I am very satisfied when I get them going at twice the throughput.

Usually these plants have more than one “bottleneck” though, and that makes them believe in an untrue limit of their capacity. Discovering and resolving those bottlenecks can be the best contribution to their success. I have been passionate about the time components that we need to understand and improve, and here are some of these with some ideas and formulas to easily calculate the real capability that a plant has:

The Lead Time
It is the time that elapses between the first and the last step of a process. In some cases, administrative (pre-manufacturing) times get included, such as order processing, credit investigation and approval, raw materials procurement, and some others. Finally the Factory Lead Time is substantial for the success.

Factory Lead Time
Counts from the moment the production order hits the floor of the plant. First operations are done… bending, cutting, forming, welding, assembling, finishing, packaging, and shipping.  It is critical for the profit margins to optimize these steps.

Of all the hundreds of lead times I have measured, more than 75% of them are a total waste, some reaching the boundaries of the 90+%!

How come?
The real
“Touch Time” that I call the number of seconds or minutes someone is doing something in the transformation of the raw materials into the product the customer wants, is surprisingly short in the proportion. This analysis is perhaps the most important we will do to improve the capability of any factory.

I don’t know how many times I have seen that the saving of a few dollars in tools or workmanship can delay the whole process in hours or even a day or two. So, here is where we start finding the problems and transforming them into opportunities for improvement. Once this analysis takes place we will start addressing the next factor: “Cycle Time”

Cycle Time
It is determined by the number of elapsed seconds that it will take at any of our workstations from the moment we start one product until we are ready to start the next one. Here, a not too surprising finding is that the cycle times are quite different from process to process and of course it is the slowest of them that sets the pace of production. Many cases can be solved in a very inexpensive way. Cycle times are for the most part under our control. Only when those cycle times get aligned we can achieve a smooth flow of products. That flow is achieved at some rythm, and we will call it Takt Time...

Now let us define your Takt Time…
Takt Time is the result of dividing all the available seconds you have available, by the number of units or products you need to process. Say for example: your plant works 8 net hours, which is 28,800 seconds. Say that you need to produce 200 units in that period of time. This leaves your Takt time at 144 seconds or 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Each time your cycle ends before the 144 second deadline, you are good to comply with your goal but if any one of the steps in your process takes more than that, some action must be taken. Sometimes this action may be simpler than you would expect.

We have developed a good number of solutions to this and will be glad to help as we have been doing with literally thousands of workstations. Give us a call toll free 866-611-6672 or send us an email, and we will help you determine the possibilities of your factory, at no cost and with no strings attached.

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