Takt Planning & Scheduling and COVID-19

Takt Planning & Scheduling and COVID-19

What does Takt Planning & Scheduling have to do with COVID-19?

Takt Planning & Scheduling could be one of the most important construction practices to keep both your workers and your bottom line healthy. This is because Takt Planning & Scheduling treats “space” as a critical constraint. On an assembly line, workers have a designated space to do their work. Similarly, with Takt Planning & Scheduling construction workers have a designated space to do their work. The main difference is that instead of the work coming to the worker, the worker goes to the work during a specified time or take.

The big benefit in these times of physical distancing is that a Takt Plan & Schedule focuses on providing sufficient space for workers to do their job. Once workers complete their jobs, they do not go into the next area until the start of the next takt. A little buffer ensures everyone is finished before the start of the next takt. This also keeps the job on a predictable pace and punch lists to a minimum.

This is not a new idea. Many of the large suburbs built after WWII were done this way with great success. Productivity, as well as cost and schedule certainty, went way up. It also reduced training time and enabled workers to master a specific skill set.  

BMW is a leader in Takt Planning & Scheduling. Takt, by the way, is a German term that refers to rhythm or the beat of music. It should be no surprise that a car company with years of experience applying Lean principles and practices to manufacturing would figure out how to apply them to construction. A great example is the plant BMW built in Brazil to assemble the all-electric i3. They built it in half the time and at half the cost of similar projects. The sketch below shows the overall Takt Plan used on this job. It’s amazing how powerful and simple it is.

The Takt Plan for the BMW Assembly Plant in Araquari, Brazil.

The takt time for building this plant was 1 week.

Two trains of workers started from the outside and worked their way to the middle.

It’s worth noting that this simple sketch replaced multiple pages of a typical construction schedule. The mantra to follow is just as simple:

Takt if you can,

Pull if you can’t,

Push as a last resort.

A good Takt Plan creates flow and value and eliminates waste as work progresses with a predictable rhythm. And with the need for physical distancing, the value from Takt Planning & Scheduling has never been greater.

About the author:

Mike Staun was responsible for Global Capital Management at Procter & Gamble before his retirement in 2019. He is now the Chairman of the Board for the Lean Construction Institute and a Senior Advisor for McKinsey & Company in their Capital Projects & Infrastructure practice.