5 Second Takt Time for New Dell Plant


BetterProcess Podcast and Blog: PC every 5 seconds…

Thanks to the BetterProcess blog for this article. The new Dell factory in NC is talking about 5 second takt times, then eventually 2.5 second takt times. Well, they don't say “takt.” That's a whole other discussion on “is Dell lean” or “is Dell a TPS company?” Let's leave that for another day.

Dell isn't like a car plant, with a single line. A 5-second takt time doesn't mean that standard work is divided up among workers in 4-5 second increments on a moving line. Dell uses quite a few parallel lines for kitting parts and parallel build stations for actually assembling the PC's. It's impressive, but it's not like a high-speed automated line that moves that fast.

What is impressive, however, is pulling the material necessary to build more than 10,000 PC's in a day. Again, we can argue if it's “lean” to have suppliers stage two weeks' of material just outside the factory. The new Lean Solutions book has an interesting (and accurate) discussion of Dell, are they “lean” or not. Maybe I'll discuss that another day.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Lean Solutions. While I have not yet added the latest Womack & Jones book to my collection, I am intrigued by the Lean Consumption concept they introduce. There have already been several articles published, including one in HBR.

    Having customers share their purchase plans early on sounds great. Manufacturer’s would then be able to truly build to order rather than replenish inventory. The ultimate pull system. Customers get what they want, when they want it (albeit not ‘right now’) and inventories are eliminated.

    This not only suggests an advance in Lean Thinking, but also huge shift in business models and consumer expectations.

    Imagine being able to show up at a car dealer and pay less for ordering a vehicle to your exact specifications than you would if you took home something close that was already sitting on the lot.

    Practical? Likely not given current flexible manufacturing capability, supply chain infrastructures and agreements as well as the existing Dealer structure.

    Dell’s business model seems like it would more closely represent the concept, whether they are truly lean or not. I look forward to more discussion around this (and to getting down and reading the book!)


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