- Jordan Christensen
ALL ABOUT THAT TAKT (PART 2)
...And we’re back with part 2!
To refresh your (and my) memory, let’s go over some of the key points we covered in the last post.
👉 Beginnings of Takt planning and what it actually is- the maximum time allowed for a trade at any stage of the project
👉 Differences between Takt planning in manufacturing and construction
👉 Differences between traditional planning and Takt planning in construction
👉 Formula to calculate the Takt time for your project (see below if you need a reminder).
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.
Is it all coming back to you? Great. Now that we’re up to speed, let’s get into part 2 of Takt planning.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A TAKT PLAN
There are a few things that all Takt plans need to have in order to earn their name.
Characteristic #1: Visual
The plan needs to be formatted simply enough to display on a single page. This is so helpful to people who are visual learners, and often helps unite the team on the same page (yes, I meant for that to be a pun!) So a Takt plan usually ends up looking like a bar graph, or colorful stairs if you have no idea what you’re looking at. The rows (horizontal) are the Takt zones, the columns (vertical) are the units of time, and each color is a designated trade. Within each colored cell (box), you can add specific tasks that are attributed to that zone and trade. This is how a Takt plan incorporates both time and space scheduling.
Characteristic #2: Rhythmic
Takt planning is, at the core, a rhythmic practice. It aims at achieving continuity in each work zone. Along with synchronicity in each zone, there is also synchronicity with other zones to keep the rhythm in harmony. Without this rhythm, a Takt plan does not exist. All work needs to be leveled in order to reduce variation and waste. When a project’s rhythm is in harmony, there is a friendly, people-based environment that breeds trust and respect.
Characteristic #3: Flowing
So this one is a BIG one. For a Takt plan, there must be flow in all areas. There is work flow, trade flow, and logistical flow. What does this mean? Work flow concentrates on the work within a certain zone. Trade flow is exactly how it sounds, trades going from zone to zone. Another way I like to look at this type of flow is the flow of tasks. Logistical flow refers to an overall sequencing of the project, including design, material sourcing, and more. These three main types of flow are considered the trifecta for a Takt plan. Traditional schedules often lack at least one type of flow, which translates to inefficiency and underdelivery at the end of a project. Another subcharacteristic that goes hand-in-hand with flow is limiting work in-progress. This just means that the work areas aren't free-for-alls, and there is a limit on how many trades can be in an area at one time. Another way to think about it is limiting the amount of concurrent zones a trade or task can work in order to optimize their resources.
Characteristic #4: Buffering
No, this is not the type of buffering you’re thinking of…this buffer is different from the one that makes you yell at your streaming service or internet connection. Buffers in a Takt plan are vital to the process, and really make or break your plan. Takt planning is ultimately people-driven, and stems from the people-based philosophy of 'lean' that looks to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Because we are humans, nothing should be expected to meet perfection. Perfection, or 100% efficiency, is not realistic, and there are always opportunities to improve. To ensure that this imperfection does not derail the end project, buffers are added. This is the cushion that saves your timeline if something should go awry. There are so many situations that can pop up causing a delay, including weather, labor shortages, resource shortages, etc. Types of buffers can include time, capacity, and resource inventory. Without buffering, the project suffers from overburdening, peaks and valleys, and waste. Allowing for variations with buffers leads to saving time in the long run.
Characteristic #5: Homeostatic
Say what?!? Yeah, I know, but give me a second to explain, and I think you’ll get the picture. Homeostasis is probably best known as a principle of biology. It’s what keeps our bodies running in perfect harmony. Every little aspect from an individual cell to the cardiovascular system needs to be calibrated just right in order for the whole body to function properly. Technically speaking, homeostasis is the state of STEADY internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. This is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature, fluid balance, blood pressure, and blood sugar, being kept within certain pre-set limits. What is ironic about homeostasis is that it is not a static process. It is a process that is constantly changing and adapting to real-time conditions. Successful adaptation = survival, unsuccessful adaptation = dead. So, homeostasis is actually a dynamic equilibrium that maintains level conditions for the whole. The body does this by a complex web of feedback systems that are controlled hierarchically. This top-down control and back-up feedback loops result in greater success of adaptation.
How does this relate to Takt planning??! Well, I’m about to tell you! Homeostasis and Takt planning require careful preparation, dynamic equilibrium, and buffers. Just like successful homeostatic changes keep us alive, Takt design keep the project on schedule. Takt is not a static process where you can set the schedule and then let it be until the end…it needs constant participation and mindfulness, just as homeostasis needs the constant feedback. So hopefully that makes sense, but it may just to me since my wife is in healthcare and constantly is chattering on about anatomy and medical things…
Characteristic #6: Forecasting
A Takt plan has a feasible and realistic prediction of the project timeline and duration. This accurate scheduling eliminates stress, waste, and running around playing Whac-a-Mole with situations that arise. In turn, a reasonable timeline leads to a work environment that is healthy for workers. A healthy work environment promotes stronger mental health, mutual respect, teamwork, and work/life balance. Another benefit of accurate forecasting is being able to finish the project with quality and on time.
Now that we know the defining characteristics of a Takt plan, let’s delve into how to actually develop one. Listed below are the very general five steps to structuring a Takt plan.
THE FIVE STEPS OF TAKT TIME PLANNING
1) Data Collection
Production data from each trade must be obtained through a team meeting with the trades and the general contractor. What type of data? The specific tasks of that trade, how they work, materials and manpower requirements, and any details regarding the current project. Other data can include historicals, production rates, quantities, available resources, work periods (whether it be holidays, 5 day work weeks), blackout dates, weather, etc. Alternative approaches should be sought, along with optimal parameters. These options can then be used in conjunction with the set of options given by other trades in order to choose the best flow and phase schedule. Who normally is qualified to give this data? Whoever is chosen to be the trade representative needs to understand the overall picture of the work, but also the minute details as described above. Superintendents and foremen are often the representatives. This team meeting ensures early strategic planning and everyone getting on the same page, ideally understanding their own trade and the other trades’ requirements and capabilities.
2) Zone Definition
Zones can be categorized in various ways. They can be established during a previous work phase, created by equal consideration of all trades, or designed around the improvement of the ‘bottleneck’ trade. These zones are the basis for Takt.
3) Trade Sequence Identification
Once the zones are defined, the trades can then be sequenced in an order that makes sense to the project as a whole. This can be set up by pull planning and deciding through team meetings. Each trade needs to lay out specific tasks and requirements they have in each zone. This is vital for successful hand-off from trade to trade.
4) Plan Balancing
This step is where you do some fine-tuning. You take your rough draft of trades, tasks, and durations, and determine the variation in each zone. There are a few options for balancing the plan and making the flow even. One method is to re-draw the zones to include more or less area dependent upon the variation of each trade in the zone; in essence, splitting the zones based upon the detail of work needed. Another method is to explore work techniques, trade scope, and sequence restructuring. The team really needs to work together on this step, as it will require give-and-take from each trade to best fit the project needs and hit the optimal Takt.
5) Plan Finalizing
Woo-hoo!! If you’ve made it to step 5 of your Takt plan, then go celebrate! In all seriousness though, all team members need to review the schedule and determine whether or not the duration and sequences are attainable. Takt planning requires everyone to buy in, so each member has to commit to this schedule. Now give everyone access to the beautifully-crafted Takt plan and keep moving forward. The fun of maintaining a Takt plan is about to begin! (More to come on that later…)
Covering the steps of a Takt plan reminds me to call out a few confusing concepts related to Takt time and other measurements of “time” on a project. Just know that they are not the same, do a little research before using each term, and you should be good!
TAKT TIME, CYCLE TIME, LEAD TIME…WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?!
Honestly, there are way too many “times”…maybe we need to eliminate some to become more concise? That’s the mind of lean, isn’t it? Well, at any rate, these 3 types of flow measurements are often confused and misconstrued. So let’s break it down.
👉 Lead time is the time frame between order placement and the client getting their value.
👉 Cycle time is the active time the project takes to complete- start to finish. Cycle times are part of lead times.
👉 Takt time is the maximum amount of time allowed to meet client demand.
If you’re like me and need a visual, your wish is granted! 👇
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES
So why am I a fan of Takt planning? Well, there are many upsides to the scheduling method, but there are a few things to consider while structuring your Takt plan. Below, I have constructed a neat little box that goes over the highlights of each side. To me, the benefits far exceed the challenges, but you make your own decision. What’s important to you and your team?
Takt means that our people are being taken care of. This is the most important thing in my opinion because PEOPLE ARE OUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE. Scheduling with Takt helps you level the workload. This avoids overburdening teams, or conversely, wasting time and talent. Quality is ensured with the level flow, and minimizing the chaos improves safety in each zone. Takt time planning is an objective method of examining and continuously improving processes.
Well, I think I should wrap up for now because you have probably reached your quota of reading for the week. Congrats! If you do still need to fit in a little light skimming, visit the past blogs here. As for what’s to come, there may be some info on uses of Takt planning on projects, tools to implement Takt planning in real-time, and possibly a how-to on adjusting and maintaining your Takt plan.
Until then, 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.