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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Takt Time:   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 More »
Takt Time Thinking for a Low-Volume High-Mix Company
By: Ballé, Michael | August 23, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Our company produces custom products that cannot be easily forecast in terms of when they will be ordered, and in what format. How can a company facing high-mix, low-volume, and unstable demand establish a production system that uses takt time? More »
Coaching Effectively Within Takt Time
By: Jeff Smith | July 9, 2014
Columns
When time is of the essence and work just needs to be done, how do you help someone improve their work or solve a problem quickly? Jeff Smith shares an example from the shopfloor. More »
How do I convince management to run to takt time, not as fast as possible?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 31, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba CoachI have always struggled with convincing management about the importance of running to takt time, since the mindset is typically run as fast as possible.    How would you address this issue with management? More »
How Often Should We Change Takt Time?
By: Balle, Michael | June 3, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Untitled DocumentDear Gemba Coach,How often should we change takt time?Deep question. The answer is: I don't know; it depends! Let's make sure we're on the same page on what takt time is. Takt time is commonly defined as daily work time divided by daily customer demand. The idea is to figure out how much time we have to make a part while sticking to customer demand, neither overproducing (and generating the associated waste) nor being late on schedule. Rather than focusing on optimizing the output of every process by looking at parts per minute, takt is a great device to More »
Misunderstandings About Value Stream Mapping, Flow Analysis, and Takt Time
By: Shook, John | March 4, 2004
Articles
Value-stream mapping is not flow analysis, but rather a simple tool that guides you through the process of analysis to improve flows and design better ones in the future. By LEI author John Shook. More »
The Backbone of Lean in the Back Shops
By: Chet Marchwinski | May 19, 2004
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Images
Learn why the lean concept of every part, every interval (EPEI) is the “backbone” of lean in this aerospace machine shop by leveling the mix in demand to create flow through a cell. More »
The Gold Mine (Charts and Maps)
By: Ballé, Freddy and Michael Ballé | May 9, 2005
Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Images; Value-Stream Maps
Charts, maps, and illustrations of key concepts and lessons in The Gold Mine:An illustration of the breakers assembled by Phil Jenkinson's companyOperator Balance Charts (OBC)Original plant layoutSTR value-stream mapA sketch of how to create a levelled schedule based on takt timeAn illustration of how increased change-overs and deliveries lead to reduced lead-timeKanban in a heijunka box More »
Creating Continuos Flow (Part 1)
By: Rother, Mike and Rick Harris | June 11, 2001
Articles
Apex Tube Company is a typical discrete parts manufacturer that we will use to illustrate the process of creating continuous flow. Apex produces a variety of tubular products for automotive, truck, and heavy-equipment applications. Two years ago Apex responded to pressure from its customers for lower prices, higher quality, more frequent deliveries, and more rapid response to changing demand by taking a hard look at its manufacturing operations. More »
Every factory needs a value stream map – even Santa's
By: Lean Leaper | December 23, 2015
Columns
Ever wondered what the world's most efficient factory is? With a takt time of less than one-third of a millisecond, we may have found our first-place winner. Clues: it's at the North Pole, has over 1.  9 billion customers, and is run by a jolly old man with a white beard and red suit. Think you know which factory we're talking about? Check out this fun VSM from Jordan Kempler of Texas and see if you're right. More »
How Can Lean Take Root in a Crappy Culture?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 31, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach:I've done a lot of working with lean, and recently started my first coaching/consulting gig. And while I'd love to help by introducing people to flow, takt time, pull, and all the nifty lean tools and ideas, the most striking thing I've learned is how much hostility and mistrust exists among people. How can I help lean take root when the biggest problem turns out to be a crappy culture? More »
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways – on a Valentine’s Day A3
By: Ernie Richardson and Tracey Richardson | February 14, 2018
Columns
The question lean practitioners Tracy and Ernie Richardson get more than any other isn’t about problem-solving, takt time, standardization, or their book. It’s about their “lean” marriage. More »
Lean Lexicon 5th Edition (eBook)
By: Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. | January 21, 2014
Books
The fifth edition of the Lexicon, first published in January 2003, is 140 pages, containing 60+ illustrations and 207 key terms from A3 Report to Yokoten. The Lexicon already covers such key lean enterprise terms as jidoka, kanban, kaizen, lean consumption, lean production, lean enterprise, pull production, standardized work, takt time, Toyota Production System, and value-stream mapping. It also has a simple, one-page guide to pronouncing Japanese terms. More »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
By: Jeff Smith | May 1, 2015
Columns
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story. More »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
By: Chet Marchwinski and Greg Lane | June 3, 2015
Columns
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why. More »
Performance versus costs, part 2
By: Ballé, Michael | July 22, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I’ve read your recent column on performance versus cost with great interest, as I believe we’re currently having a similar discussion at management level. Would you clarify further the difference you see between performance management and cost cutting? More »
Jidoka, Part 1
By: Smalley, Art | August 7, 2010
Articles
LEI author Art Smalley found 1.  8 billion hits for “just in time” and just 38,300 for “jidoka,” the Toyota concept of giving machines and people the ability to detect when an abnormality occurs. The search results should be reversed, according to Toyota veteran Smalley, who recalled his former boss saying, “Just-in-Time is just an extension of the U.  S. supermarket concept and the German aerospace concept of takt time. Jidoka however is one of our company strengths and something to be proud of. It is what makes us unique and successful.  ” More »
Why does one-piece-flow matter?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 3, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I am value stream manager in a company that makes consumer goods. We have been working with a sensei for three years and have progressively moved from batch organization to flow and production cells. Recently, during the plant visit, our sensei made a big fuss because there were three parts between two operators and he insisted in one or zero. I am confused at why the big difference between three and one part in the process. Could you shed any light on this?Great question, which goes to the very core of lean: why do two extra parts matter? More »
Cadence
By: Womack, Jim | January 3, 2008
Columns; eLetters
Think of cadence as takt time adapted to activities beyond routine production. In the product development world -- as brilliantly illuminated by our late colleague, Allen Ward -- it is very helpful for a development organization to have a clear sense how many new products are needed per unit of calendar time and to develop a steady pace for initiating and finishing these projects. The demand might be one per year or one per quarter or one per month, depending on the perceived desires of customers. But in every case the demand needs to be determined in advance and projects More »
'Twas the Night Before Kaizen
By: Joshua Rapoza | December 19, 2014
Columns
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us at the Lean Enterprise Institute! More »
Standard Work Operator Balance Chart(OBC)
December 6, 2012
Forms and Templates
The operator balance chart helps create continuous flow in a multistep, multioperator process by distributing operator work elements in relation to takt time. (Also called an operator loading diagram or a yamazumi board.  )Kaizen Express, from which this example is taken, is a concise, precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System and how to implement them. It is ideal for individuals or teams starting a lean transformation or in need of a quick refresher on the fundamental concepts of lean manufacturing.   Other Resources:WorkshopsStandardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen »Management Standard Work »ArticlesFive Missing Pieces in Your More »
Standardized Work Chart
December 6, 2012
Forms and Templates
The standardized work chart shows operator movement and material location in relation to the machine and overall process layout. It should show takt time, work sequence, and standard WIP.  The standardized work chart is one of the three basic forms for creating standardized work, along with the standardized work combination table and job instruction sheet. The purpose of standardized work, according to Kaizen Express from which this form is taken, is to provide a basis for continuous improvement through kaizen.  Kaizen Express, from which this example is taken, is a concise, precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota More »
Are You Pulling?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 25, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, We’ve made a substantial effort in training all our operators to standardized work (SW)by deploying  Training Within Industry(TWI) principles across all our sites. While we’ve had some good results, the level of discipline on SW is disappointing, and many cells are producing well below target cycle time. Do you have any pointers for us?Are you pulling? Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the first question that comes to mind. I believe it could be the true source of your problems. Your situation calls to mind a plant that I visited several years ago. They were making More »
Lean Lexicon 4th Edition (Foreword by Jose Ferro, Dan Jones, and Jim Womack)
By: Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. | April 5, 2008
Articles
"Lexicon is just a fancy word for dictionary—one that conveniently alliterates with “lean”—and like all dictionaries, there is a need for upgrades as usage changes and new terms emerge. This is therefore Version 4.  0 of what we imagine will be a continuing effort to define and sharpen our language as we all move toward future states and ideal states. In this spirit, we hope to hear from Lean Community members about additional terms to include in future versions and about changing usage and changing business needs that may call for revised definitions and additional examples.  "Read the rest of More »
Why you can't convince your boss to support lean activities, unless ...
By: Ballé, Michael | November 16, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba  Coach,I work as a deployment champion in a manufacturing company, but I don’t have the support of my managers because they don´t believe in the lean methodology. Which lean tools can be used to help them believe? More »
What is the lean approach to quality – is that what six sigma is all about?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 7, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I’m a frequent reader of your columns and you always seem to emphasize quality first, but I can’t find many books detailing a lean approach to quality – is this what six sigma is about? More »
Landscape Forms Cultivates Lean to Fuel Growth Goals
By: Tonya Vinas | February 11, 2009
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
With single-item orders 80% of the time, adopting single-piece flow and cellular production made sense to management at Landscape Forms, a low-volume, high-mix producer of outdoor furniture in Kalamazoo, MI. Find out how the company continued to spread the lean conversion by taking on the harder challenges of reinventing the production schedule through leveling, implementing lean financial management, and creating culture that embraced change and More »
Standardized Work Hangs Ten with San Diego’s Surfing Culture -- Meeting the Challenges of Leadership, Culture, and Resistance
By: Doug Bartholomew | July 10, 2015
Case Studies
Instead of wiping out with a Southern California surfing school, the lean management principle of standardized had a positive impact, helping it boost surfing time for students, the number of students per class, and revenue. More »
Which is best for a lean environment, a U-shaped cell or assembly line? Why?
By: Balle, Michael | January 25, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba CoachWhich is best for a lean environment, a U-shaped cell or assembly line? Why? More »
How Does Lean Apply In a Job Shop?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 25, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,In our job shop we make high precision modules and tools, work that involves a great deal of variety and very little repetition of products or processes. How can we apply lean principles in an environment like ours? More »
How Do We Manage Our Stock to Be Lean AND Responsive to Varied Customer Demand?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 22, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We’re a tier two supplier and we’re trying to implement a pull system. We’re leveling our production schedules, but our customer’s variation in the demand for products immediately makes us miss shipments. Our OTD is not getting better. Although production runs more smoothly, people are getting frustrated. Where would you start? That definitely is a tricky question, and I’d start at the gemba. Are your truck preparation areas all set up? The only practical way of guaranteeing shipments is to have the truck prepared in advance and in full. The first place to go is shipping, checking that truck More »
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