The available production time divided by customer demand.
For example, if a widget factory operates 480 minutes per day and customers demand 240 widgets per day, takt time is two minutes. Similarly, if customers want two new products per month, takt time is two weeks. The purpose of takt time is to precisely match production with demand. It provides the heartbeat of a lean production system.
Takt time first was used as a production management tool in the German aircraft industry in the 1930s. (Takt is German for a precise interval of time such as a musical meter.) It was the interval at which aircraft were moved ahead to the next production station. The concept was widely utilized within Toyota in the 1950s and was in widespread use throughout the Toyota supply base by the late 1960s. Toyota typically reviews the takt time for a process every month, with a tweaking review every 10 days.