- Jordan Christensen
ALL ABOUT THAT TAKT (PART 1)
Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the Takt time blog! We’re going to be going over what Takt time is and why you need it in your life. Since this was turning into a novel, I decided to split it into 2 easily digested parts. You're welcome...I encounter TL;DR on a daily basis.
In case you missed it, you can check out my other blog posts on lean construction and the 5 whys; they’ll give you a good background for this one.
WHAT IS TAKT TIME AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Many people, including industry professionals, say that they’ve heard of Takt. That is, until you ask them to explain it. Then the silence ensues. So in the interest of all those who are blankly staring at the screen wondering (not out loud, of course) what this is and why it even matters, let’s start at the beginning.
Takt pulls its origins from Latin and German roots. ‘Taktzeit’ means cycle time in German. ‘Tactus’ in Latin means touch, feeling, beat, or pulse. Takt time has been used successfully in many different processes including automobile manufacturing in Japan and the United States along with airplane manufacturing in Germany. Henry Ford was one of the first to employ lean manufacturing techniques in the production of the Model T in 1913. Here, he improved upon the assembly line production time (which evolved into what we now know as Takt time), essentially cutting it from 12 hours to 90 minutes. He didn’t know it yet, but he would later be considered the ‘Father of Lean Manufacturing’.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAKT TIME IN MANUFACTURING AND TAKT TIME IN CONSTRUCTION
Now, most of the information out there pertains to Takt time in manufacturing. This leads to confusion and misunderstanding when applying those concepts to the construction industry. In manufacturing, work is divided between stations and the rate of production is obvious at each stage. In construction, work is divided by tasks and phases. Knowing the tasks required and resources available, the time required to
complete a task by each trade can be calculated.
Simply put, the Takt time in construction is the duration allotted for each task or trade in each area. Why is this important? Even flow of all trades moving at the same pace ensures the completion of the project on time with appropriate delegation of resources. Takt time planning is one method that applies lean principles. This method aims to create continuous work flow and reduce variability. This adds value and reduces waste in the workplace. Takt in construction can be described as the overall ideal rate of progress of all construction activities. A rate faster than the ideal (Takt) creates more job buffers and excess inventory, which is waste. A rate slower than the ideal means that activities are taking longer than optimal and delays the next task, ultimately failing to meet the deadline.
Rather than relying on customer demand like in manufacturing, Takt time in construction is not necessarily driven by customer demand. Instead, it is people-driven. Takt benefits all the stakeholders on a project, and may be most prominent for the workers themselves. Because of this difference between manufacturing and construction, there is debate when defining the demand rate. One option is to find the time available to finish the work and verify it in order to base demand on it. Another option is to attempt improvement of the production rate of the slowest trade, which acts as a bottleneck to the whole process. Yet another option is to provide a systematic planning method that determines the demand, and in turn, the Takt.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL CONSTRUCTION PLANNING AND TAKT TIME PLANNING
Most everyone is familiar with the typical methods used for construction planning and scheduling if they are in the industry. These include CPM (critical path method) or PERT (program evaluation and review technique). Activity-based methods focus on discrete activities and how they are logically linked by identifying the critical path. Forecasts through CPMs are based on the remaining time allotted for certain tasks. These methods can potentially distribute productivity rates unevenly, leading to varying peaks in production. Addressing this variability with traditional construction methods involves a reallocation of resources, causing an ensuing imbalance with schedule delays and cost increases.
The differences between these two approaches are that the traditional approaches typically do not generate flow in production and are susceptible to failure if there is variation in the system. Takt time planning is a space-scheduling method rather than solely a time-scheduling method. Takt planning creates a flow of work on the job site that efficiently utilizes space available. Forecasts obtained through space-scheduling methods are more accurate due to being based on actual progress of the project, productivity, and available resources. Because of the resource drought and today’s uncertain and unpredictable economy, many industry professionals are abandoning the CPM and PERT methods, deeming them outdated and unable to anticipate issues in a constantly-changing construction environment. This has led to adoption and flood to Takt time planning en masse as an alternative. Who would have thought…some lemonade in this barrage of lemons we’re experiencing!
CALCULATING TAKT TIME
Takt time is the total available production time divided by the average customer demand. So in other words, it is the rate at which a product needs to be completed to meet demand. Takt time is the heartbeat of the creation process. Knowing the Takt time for your business is a way to maximize capacity and efficiency. To delve a little deeper into Takt time, it is the speed with which the project needs to be completed to satisfy the customer demands. The actual formula is as follows:
Takt time in manufacturing=(Net Time Available for Project)/(Customer’s Daily Demand)
Takt time in construction=(Total Duration of Phase)/(Number of Work Zones + Number of Tasks - 1)
Actually calculating and implementing Takt time in the construction industry is a topic of heated debate and a lot of ‘gray’ area. Specific aspects of Takt time planning are ambiguous, and this variability has led to complications in real-world application. Stay tuned for part 2 and more on this nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat excitement!
Keep moving forward-
**P.S. If you’d like to try your hand at creating a Takt plan without spending ages in complicated software, check out inTakt’s free trial here…no risks, no stress!
Keep it simple.