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Yamazumi Charts and Boards

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I am a trainer and consultant in Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, quality management, and business management.

What is a Yamazumi Chart or Board

A Yamazumi chart or Yamazumi board is a visual tool used within lean manufacturing to aid in cell design and continuous improvement; it allows you to visualize the various work elements within a process and compare them to the required customer output or Takt time.

Yamazumi literally means to "stack up" and the yamazumi chart is a simple stacked bar chart of your activity times within your process.

By using this process you can highlight areas where operators are facing stressful levels of work (Muri – overburden) whilst other operators may be spending time waiting or idle “marking time” to allow previous operations to catch up. You process can only flow at the speed of the slowest link in the chain; using the yamazumi board can help you to identify the weak links in your processes.

The yamazumi board also distinguishes between value adding and non-value adding operations allowing you to visualize the savings that could be made by eliminating these non-value adding operations to make your processes more efficient.

Yamazumi Chart in use



What is Takt time?

Your Takt time is the demand rate required by your customers in number of minutes per part. It is calculated by dividing you total available work time by the average number of parts required by the customer.

The Takt time is the speed at which your factory should run, slower would mean that you would fail to meet customer demand and faster would cause you to build inventory. The Takt time of your factory is one of the most important factors to consider when designing your processes and work cells.

When you create your yamazumi chart you will draw a line across it at the height of your takt time, each operation should then be just below the Takt time when you have balanced the work between each operation.

Cell Balancing

Balance Workcell

Balance Workcell

How many people do I need?

If you know the Takt time and you know how long a product takes to produce you can calculate the number of people you need to produce your product. For example;

If your takt time is one minute, and your product cycle time is 4 minutes and 45 seconds then you need to have 4.75/1 or 4.75 people (obviously you can’t have 0.75 of a person so we round up to 5 people.) If you are left with a fraction of less than say 0.25 you should round down the number of people required to allow for process improvement when doing your yamazumi board analysis.

Yamazumi Video

Timing Work Elements for Yamazumi

To balance a work cell you need to know both the takt time (demand) and how long each individual element of work takes; this requires the work to be measured.

In the past an industrial engineer would stand over the operators (who would often slow their work pace) with a stopwatch and time the various elements of work to arrive at standard times and other measures which would then be used to either reward or beat the operators with when they either achieved or failed to achieve output.

To use a yamazumi chart, as in other lean manufacturing tools, we wish to involve the team in the analysis and improvement, a far better way to make these measurements in today's technological age is to take a video of the operations involved and have the whole team analyse and time the process.

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Video Work Elements for Your Yamazumi Board

By using a simple video you can have the whole team involved in making the timing of each element of the work involved.

Each process should be broken down into small manageable steps that can be both timed and identified as being either value adding or non-value adding. So you would time;

  1. walk to container (non-value),
  2. select component (non-value),
  3. return to work place (non-value),
  4. place component into fixture (non-value, unavoidable),
  5. operate drill (value adding)
  6. etc.

By videoing the different shifts involved and the different people that do the work you can also see how different processes are being used and how they affect the output from the process. This allows you to not just time the process but to better standardize and choose the best methods for your production.

Look at this article on work study for more detailed information on conducting your timings.

Creating a Yamazumi Chart

Magnetic yamazumi charts

Using a Yamazumi Chart

Your yamazumi board is a simple stacked bar chart; the left hand (Vertical) scale is time marked off in seconds, the lower horizontal axis is used to display the number of operators. A line is drawn across to indicate the Takt time for the process, your aim is to ensure that all operators’ workloads fall below the takt time (but not by too much as they would be idle.)

The individual work elements are then recorded onto pieces of coloured paper (green; value adding, Red; non-value adding, Orange; non-value adding but unavoidable), these papers are cut to length to represent the number of seconds taken. The best to use here is either magnetic card to stick to a metal board or simple post-it notes.

You then stack the work elements on the yamazumi chart for each operator, the ideal is that they have around 95% of the takt time taken up by their work in the cell.

If the operation takes more than the takt time you need to take some elements of their work and pass it to the operators either before or after them. Alternatively and more effectively you can review the non-value adding elements and remove them or try to reduce the time taken for other elements of their work.

Using magnetic printable paper (above) allows you to easily create a yamazumi chart using just a standard magnetic white board.

Yamazumi Line Balancing

If an operators workload exceeds the takt time on the Yamazumi board you have two options;

Eliminate the non-value adding elements of his work to bring below the Takt time.

Reallocate some of their work elements to an earlier or later operator in the process.

Using the yamazumi board you can balance the line for varying Takt times and numbers of operators as your heart desires. Whilst your Takt time should remain constant, in practice you may wish to have the ability to flex your work-cell to operate with fewer operators or more to cope with demand fluctuations caused by unforeseen events (such as an outbreak of flu causing absenteeism) or even seasonal demand patterns. It is good practice to create a work flow diagram based on the ideal number of operators, then additional diagrams for fewer or more operators such as in the examples below.

Standardized Operations

One of the most important aspects to consider when using yamazumi is that you need to have a standardized way of performing the work. There should not be differences between operator A and operator B, nor should there be differences between shifts. The work needs to be carefully documented to clearly show exactly how the work is conducted.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Work Instructions should be used to detail out the best way to do the work and should contain timings for help in changing your Yamazumi chart at a later date should you need to add or remove operators.

These are very easy to create with today's word processing packages and the use of a digital camera or even your phone.

Yamazumi questions

If you have any questions regarding the use of yamazumi boards or Yamazumi Charts for line balancing or about lean manufacturing principles in general please leave a comment below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 31, 2014:

Hi Tahir.

Waiting is a waste and should be eliminated, certainly not included as part of your calculation for your takt time etc. You certainly would not want to hire an additional 14 people just to wait!

If parts have to queue (wait) you should be asking yourself why. Is this a small buffer stock between each workstation? Sometimes we need small buffer stocks to allow for cooling, curing etc If however this is not the case you should investigate why it is there.

Tahir on March 22, 2014:


Being a process engineer, i am working on line balancing for assembling operation. Here is situation: Actual working work content is 1116 Sec.

Demand is 200 unit per day within 8.5 hours and takt time will be 150 sec

Manpower calculated from above figure is 09 Manpower. This condition is very ideal and can not achieve on real ground. On analzying, i found that there are always waiting time between workstation which was not included in Time motion study . Waiting time was 2053Sec , so total time 1116+2053=3169 Sec

With Takt time 150 Sec, Now i got 22.5 Manpower which is current and real scenario of working on assembly line

Question: Is it correct to add waiting time (2053) with Time motion study time (1116) or work on only ideal condition? Is Non value added waiting time completely eliminate? If it can not be reduced or eliminated completely, then how we can adjust waiting time in our study to get optimum manpower and line balancing efficiency.



Tony (author) from At the Gemba on August 04, 2013:

Hi Jesse, the yamazumi board should be constructed by the people doing the work with their own timings therefore should reflect the reality of what is actually done; not done by an engineer in a back room based on timings that are estimated or recorded for "costing purposes."

As to how to introduce the idea of yamazumi it will depend on a number of factors. But usually you will introduce yamazumi boards when trying to improve a layout or improve throughput and this should be led by an "expert coach" able to lead the team through the process. Like any other lean technique there is no hard and fast rules for how it should be introduced or implemented with every tool needing to be tailored specifically to the processes and culture at hand.

Jesse on August 03, 2013:

When using the yamazumi board would you suggest that an actual go look go see be done first to see if the actual data collected is accurate for the takt time? This will be the first introduction to the team about yamazumi. What do you suggest the best way to introduce to the team for ease of learning and accepting the process?

Chris Coles on February 25, 2012:


I found an interesting article about Yamazumi here:

There is also a link to a free Yamazumi template and other lean tools here. Looks really good:

prsarkar from New Delhi on January 25, 2012:

Who has invented Yamazumi Chart? When it has been used first (year)?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on October 25, 2011:

Thank you for commenting Sanashekh, I hope you learned something about yamazumi charts.

sanashekh from islam bad on October 25, 2011:

very interesting article i m satisfy about your theme gud keep it up

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