Measure the Tempo of Your Operation - 4Ward Solutions Group - Modular Commercial Building Construction Consulting
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Measure the Tempo of Your Operation - 4Ward Solutions Group - Modular Commercial Building Construction Consulting


By Ben Hershey, 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC

 My wife Dianne and I were recently going through some of our old family photos and I came across this photo of Dianne’s Dad, Jack Hendershot, as a teenager on his bike delivering ice in the early ’50s.  For those who may not know, before the advent of refrigeration and freezing technology, ice was cut from lakes and rivers during the winter and stored in insulated places for use during warmer months.  It was delivered to customers and placed into what was then an early version of the refrigerator or “ice box.”  Young Jack was part of the team who would deliver ice blocks from the insulated storage facility and drop the block into the customer’s ice box.  Reading some history on early ice block companies, one of the challenges was meeting customer demand while not losing the volume of ice during delivery.  From what I understand of family history, Jack would spend time prior to leaving the insulated warehouse so he could figure out by hand the number of deliveries he needed to make and what plan would result in the least amount of loss of ice along the way.  I imagine that Jack likely figured out the amount of time he could spend at each stop and created a cadence for his time. Fast forward a few decades and we’re still trying to accomplish a similar feat—today’s manufacturing and distibution demands we figure out what our capacity is, and how much product can be delivered each day.

Today, we measure capacity and the tempo of our operation using Takt time(s).  Though I hear some around us babble about what they think they know, until you dive in and actually know the operation, the processes and the requirements of the customer, you would be hard pressed to figure what was the time required to produce an order (design, pulling a load, manufacturing a truss, completing a door, etc.).

What is Takt Time?

 Takt time is the maximum amount of time in which a product needs to be produced/designed/pulled-together in order to satisfy customer demand.  The term comes from the German word “takt,” which means “pulse.”  Set by customer demand, takt creates the pulse or rhythm across all processes in a business to ensure continuous flow and utilization of capacities (e.g., man and machine).  You might ask yourself, “why do we need to know takt time?”  First, takt ensures that all the capacity in a business is planned and utilized and still meets overall customer demand. By and large, takt will help to deliver the right product at the right time in the right quantity to the customer.  Second, takt creates a constant pulse across your processes, which will immediately highlight capacity issues, synchronization issues among processes, quality issues, and many others.

What is a Quick Way to Figure Takt Time?

The simple formula is:

Production time available = total production time – breaks – maintenance activities – shift changeover – clean down time


Customer demand = amount of units required by customer/ time period

Say that you need to produce 100 doors a day to meet customer demand, and you work an 8-hour shift with two 15-minute breaks and a 10-minute clean down time.

 Total Time: 8 Hours X 60 Minutes = 480 Minutes
Breaks: 40 Minutes
Time Available : 440 Minutes
Customer Demand in 8 Hours: 100 Doors
Takt Time: 440 / 100 = 4.4 Minutes = 264 Seconds

This example shows that the customer demand will need one door every 264 seconds. However, you might like to produce a single door in a little less than 264 seconds in order to accommodate any variation in process steps, breakdowns, quality issues, etc.  It’s therefore essential that, before you implement takt, you ensure that your processes are dependable and can deliver good quality, and that your machine has a very high uptime.

How Do You Implement Takt Time?

Takt has an easy formula, but it’s one of the most difficult to implement in the Lean world.

  1. You can start implementing takt time by first measuring individual cycle times. Insert this data into the formula in order to calculate takt time.
  2. To begin aligning your process to the takt time, start dividing the work that goes into the process into value adding and non-value adding activity.
  3. Eliminate the non-value adding time and balance the workload of the operators.
  4. Bring the individual cycle times closer to the takt time. Keep the line balanced. In this case you will need fewer operators.

Knowing the takt time in all of your processes will allow you to understand what the capacity of your operation is, and will allow you to address those areas where automation or software can improve capacity while also reducing costs.  As you consider this, remember there is a lot of babble out there trying to tell you what they know, but it is more important that you understand your operation.  The entire 4Ward Consulting team has helped several hundred operations effectively increase lean efficiency while also mentoring/coaching leaders to empower their employees to lead them to success.  If we can be of assistance to you and your team, please give us a call.


Best Practice Tip                           


 The announcements have already started, and I want to echo the opportunity you have at this year’s BCMC Show in Columbus, OH.  It has been my privilege to be a part of the committee that works with the SBCA Staff to organize this show every year.  This year’s theme sets the stage for you and your team to take advantage of learning, not only from all of the exhibitors who will be present at the show, but also the numerous educational sessions we have this year.  From learning more about cyber security, developing a local workforce, risk management, measuring production, and training designers, you will have numerous opportunities to learn, grow, and network with your peers throughout the industry.  As of this article publication, there are already 86 exhibitors with more than 61,000 square feet of space that will provide you the opportunity to chart a course for your company’s success.  And don’t forget, this is always a show that reaches out to everyone in your business, not only to your management team, but your design, operations, and production teams as well.  We even have a Lean Workshop on Tuesday that will provide you with a fresh prospective from the team at Ohio University’s College of Business.  

Start planning today and get your registration in for you and your team.  And the team at 4Ward Consulting will also look forward to meeting you there.  Check out this link to set your course for 2019!

 Ben Hershey is CEO of the 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC team.  When the industry needs an actual expert, they turn to 4Ward Consulting Group team with more than 100 years of experience.  4Ward Consulting Group isthe leading provider of Management and Manufacturing Consulting to the Structural Component and Lumber Industry. A Past President of SBCA, Ben has owned and managed several manufacturing and distribution companies and is Six Sigma Black Belt Certified. Ben has provided consulting to hundreds of Component Manufacturers, Lumber Dealers, and Millwork Operations in the past seven years.  You can reach Ben at or 623-512-6770.

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