Takt production. It reminds me, from outside the construction industry, of some social service or healthcare reform that everyone talks about but no-one can really explain what it means. So here come a few words about takt production and how to apply it on construction sites in the eyes of a site manager.
No software will make takt production for you. Creating and implementing a well-working takt schedule requires effort from all parties, plus an enormous amount of knowledge and understanding. Resources, workloads, wagon content, pre-requisites to even get tarted… takt areas. All this, and creating a functional combination out of them, is done by people, not software. You can create a great takt schedule even on a piece of paper. The solution you use doesn’t actually matter all that much – however, it does make things easier if the current situation can be clearly visualized and editing the schedule doesn’t drive you mad.
This leads us to schedule management. If we go by really strict Lean thinking, the takt schedule shouldn’t be touched after day one on the site. If and when problems occur, we stop the site and correct the situation to where we should be in the schedule. But also takt schedules need steering, and in real life, we can’t always go strictly by methodologies. So it doesn’t hurt to have some easy tool at hand for keeping it all together despite challenges.
Let’s take monitoring the completion rate, for one thing. You know, it can be done even on a whiteboard if you like. But maybe it would be nice for everyone to see the progression, not just in weekly meetings, but also say on their own computer even when they don’t happen to be at the site office. Also, when theory meets real life and nothing goes as planned, it would be equally nice to have software that could handle re-planning and communicating the situation to everyone. If it doesn’t, at worst you end up in a situation where the fancy digital schedule says one thing but the reality is a whole different story. No wonder if it then starts to feel like digital equals dreadful, and you start missing the good old whiteboard.
Realizing that wagons and takt areas contain pieces of resources and knowledge from various people, we start to see that the one, most important thing on a well-functioning takt site is, indeed, common understanding among the people. The solutions and tools that are used on the site to collect data, manage tasks and fit all pieces together, do matter. Tools that are flexible, visual and easy to use, are worth gold. But still, they don’t do anything without the people. Not even the takt.
The takt is done by us – by people.