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Takt in a nutshell

Author: Tuomas Hakulinen
Published: 30.5.2022

Construction site foremen are under a lot of pressure. Site management requires the management of multiple moving pieces and the problems that need solving pop up here and there. It is difficult to keep projects on schedule and at the required level of quality. But how to fix this?

Takt production and improving the flow of construction sites are the answers.

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What is takt production?

Takt production is a production method based on the Lean philosophy, in which the flow of construction is improved by designing the unit into smaller batch sizes and work packages of the same duration. When tasks take the same amount of time, the project gets more predictable, fluid, and easier to manage. Ideally, the entire production and logistics of the project will proceed at the same pace. Takt production is based on standardization, the reduction of batch sizes and the management of a transparent overall picture.

In takt production, the house to be built is divided into synchronous areas, such as floors or apartments. The work is divided down into small work packages and recurring entities are arranged in work queues. Work queues are scheduled to move from one floor to another at the same time, for example, every week. In this way, site management becomes clearer, wasted time and resources are reduced, and the quality of work is checked at the end of each takt. As a result, the building will be finished faster and with better quality.

Traditional scheduling vs. takt production

The key point of traditional scheduling is usually resource efficiency. Trying to make sure all the resources on site are working on something all the time. In takt production, on the other hand, things are divided into places, ie the aim is to ensure that all places are evenly under construction and that there are no empty, waiting spaces on the construction site.

For example, plan casting which is a familiar work phase for many. The process means that half a building or the whole building is made at a time. Seems effective, but is it? The first finished space waits quite a long time before casting, and after the casting there is hardly any possibility to continue the work in each space at the same time. This leads to empty spaces without any work done on them.

However, takt production aims at a schedule that does not need to be changed for tasks during the project. Takt production is controlled with e.g. the amount of resources, the length of the beats, the buffers, or the rhythm of the tasks and the change of carriages. In addition to the on-site workers, e.g. logistics, work management, and sourcing also benefit from takt production. They can divide the deliveries and inspections into takts, just like the site management does with their work and resources.

Pace production requires strong expertise in design, control, and continuous improvement

In takt production, all parties are challenged to plan the work more carefully in advance in close interaction with others. This forces people to think about solutions to problem areas beforehand and to look at the whole project from the perspective of smooth production and not just the resource efficiency. In takt production, problems emerge faster than in conventional production. Problems must also be resolved efficiently, so that the takt is not disrupted.

At the heart of takt production are transparency, communication, and coordination

Improving site flow and lead times requires that takt areas, takt time, and work packages are defined very clearly to ensure that it is clear to each employee what, when, and where to do any type of work. In addition, a clear visualization of the overall picture of the timing plan is needed for site management so that it is also clear to subcontractors what is expected of them.

For supervisors, takt production requires day-to-day and weekly management, where communication, transparency and continuous improvement are the focal points. It is possible to react quickly to problems and quality deviations when transparency and communication with the workers is active. In addition, as data can be better collected from construction sites, repeating mistakes can be avoided in the future and lessons can be learned for future projects on how to improve the flow of construction sites. The process of continuous improvement is underway.

Takt production does not mean done in a hurry

Takt production is not about working harder or in a hurry, on the contrary. Adhering to a well-designed takt schedule leaves more time to focus on the work itself. Ideally, more will be achieved with less effort, and by doing things right at once.

How to start pace production on your construction site?

This is sure to be asked by every foreman. Digital tools are in themselves a big change change, let alone a new way to schedule and manage. What needs to be done differently to make this possible?

Working together is paramount in takt production. The completed schedule is the result of the work of all the professionals. Anyone can draw a great takt schedule, but it won’t work through if it’s not committed to it or isn’t realistic. It is important to engage subcontractors at the design stage so that each party is committed to the schedule. So, work together to define workloads, work steps, and takt schedules. Also, be sure to set aside enough time for planning to make the takt schedule realistic and feasible.

In addition, a change in management requires as much similar things as the change on-site. If a takts are done daily, they also need to be daily managed. Reception, securing places, reacting to obstacles, guiding. This feels like an increase in work at first, but the same guideline applies to management as it does for the actual hands-on work: “no time is taken away, only divided into smaller parts”.

Disruptions are even more critical in takt scheduling than in a traditional scheduling. Basically, the next takt doesn’t start until the previous is complete. So, try to highlight obstacles quickly, preferably before the task. Also, make sure everyone knows how to report anomalies and other findings. Also, set a time in which obstacles will be handled react quickly.

Make sure you create premises for work in every way possible; goods are delivered to the right place on time, and assets such as electricity, light, heat, and walkways are in order. You can ultimately influence many things on the job site by choosing what is important to your production.

From a communication and management perspective, it is important to establish daily and weekly routines.

Make sure every employee is aware of what they are doing during the workday and the conditions for success are in place. In addition, monitor and manage the progress of construction sites with subcontractors on a weekly basis.

In terms of the big picture, each member of the project must constantly know the following three things:

1. Where they need to be now and what to do.

2. Where they need to be next and who is there now.

3. Who will come here next and where are they now.

Takt production requires a functional tool

Many foremen who have introduced takt production have found it difficult to manage construction sites without a proper digital tool. Excel is not well-suited for site management, where transparency, communication and real-time updates are paramount. That’s why we’ve created an app that meets the needs of construction sites and is made from builders to builders.

With Sitedrive Takt, you can create takt schedules and update them as changes occur. You can easily and quickly allocate teams or individuals to tasks. You will also be able to view the realization of the schedule in real time.

With Sitedrive Takt, you can create an overall view and continually redesign it – visually in the browser. Workers see their own tasks, update their progress, and report obstacles at a glance so management can take action right away. Prompt response helps shorten project lead times and improve construction quality.

Six tips for success in takt production

  • Plan

Agree workloads and phases in collaboration with contractors with the goal of a steady and predictable production pace.

  • Communicate

Make sure every employee is aware of what they are doing during the workday and that the conditions for success are in place.

  • Report anomalies

Make sure everyone knows how to report anomalies and other findings. Promise to handle obstacles within a certain time and react quickly.

  • Establish routines

Work consistently and establish daily routines that support takt production on site. Ensure fluency by predictions.

  • Keep your promises

Don’t slip out of schedule. Take care of the conditions for starting and attending meetings. Make schedule receipts daily.

  • Reward

Make the meetings pleasant. Reward, for example, a zero-error rate e.g., by organizing a pizza Friday!

Why takt production?

Takt production is all about thinking about the entire construction production chain in a systematic and balanced way. The methods of takt production can be used to ensure that the conditions are there, that the work is done at once and that everyone on the site knows what is going on. There is less hopping between different work phases and the lead time is reduced by more than 30%, which reduces costs and benefits all parties involved in the project.

The benefits of takt production are therefore not limited to the management level, but every worker and subcontractor benefits from a change in operating model on site. The work becomes clearer when more time is spent planning and managing the construction and is thus of higher quality. It is clearer for the workers what, where and when to work, when the construction sites are actively managed on a daily and weekly basis. One could easily think that the workload and hurrying would increase. On the contrary, the amount of compaction is reduced when a well-planned takt schedule is followed and time is freed up for the work itself. Eventually, the amount of stress decreases as the ambiguity of the work decreases.

In takt production, problems need to be addressed more quickly so that the entire takt is not disrupted. In this way, the quality of construction sites improves when problem areas are identified earlier. Improved communications and transparency also mean learning from mistakes and ensuring continuity.

In the following projects, it is possible to take into account previous mistakes and bottlenecks. Obstacles are removed more effectively from construction sites, resulting in better flow and less stress.

Through takt production, the entire industry and society benefit. Subcontractors prefer to work with foremen whose process and schedule keep up. Customers prefer to work with developers with excellent quality and lead times. Society, businesses, and people will benefit when higher-quality premises, housing and buildings are created at a faster pace. Everybody wins.

About the Author

Customer Success Specialist at Fira Smart, Tuomas Hakulinen brings his expertise to his words from the sites. Tuomas has work experience of over 10 years from construction sites in site management, where he drove forward operational development from within the site. On his last pipe renovation sites, Tuomas took part in developing the schedule management system Fira Sitedrive, and eventually moved on to continue this work full time in the Fira Smart team. However, a huge part of his work time is still spent on jobsites – nowadays in the role of training and consultation to help sites deploy digital solutions.

Contact Tuomas – he may very well pay you a visit, as well!

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