The Takt Time for a process step is a Lean Six Sigma metric calculated as the Resource (time) divided by the Demand (items).
Takt is a German word meaning "metronome" and is used to indicate the desired rhythm of the process. The takt time Lean metric is posted at the cell, and the resources (machines, personnel) at each step in the process are balanced so that its cycle time equals the takt time. This Level Loading ensures that goods produced at each step are used immediately by the next step, creating a constant (i.e. Just-In-Time) flow of items (or service) through the value stream.
If a temporary increase in orders is received, the pace remains the same, but resources are moved to meet demand. In this way, the process steps are resourced to accommodate a pull system of management, where items are only processed when needed by the next operation.
The Lean concept of Transparency , or visual control, makes everyone aware of the current status of the process, and has been found to decrease the reaction time to waste, foster responsibility, and aid in problem solving.
While we can usually design the process and allocate standard resources for any process to meet its standard takt time, we recognize that a shift in demand will shift the takt time requirements. One way to accommodate the takt time adjustment is to shift resources. See also Level Load Balancing
Learn more about the Lean Six Sigma principles and tools for process excellence in Six Sigma Demystified (2011, McGraw-Hill) by Paul Keller, in his online Lean Six Sigma DMAIC short course ($249), or his online Green Belt certification course ($499).