Takt planning of the fit-out of a multi-story biopharmaceutical project
This report presents a study of the development and implementation of the takt plan used to manage the fit-out of a multi-story biopharmaceutical project (the Project). The goal of the study was to capture lessons learned for all parties involved, but especially for the owner who is keen on replicating the use of takt planning and extending its scope of use on future projects. The report starts by giving an overview of the context in which the Project unfolded. It then presents fundamental concepts and terminology pertaining to takt planning. The use of takt informs so-called “work structuring” and, when framed in the context of the Last Planner® System, applies strategically at the level of master scheduling and operationally at the level of phase scheduling. The work density method is presented to illustrate how one may go about using takt to plan a construction project. The body of this report documents and highlights specific aspects of the development, presentation, and implementation of the takt plan that was used to deliver this Project. The data for this study was obtained by reviewing project documents, interviewing key people involved in the Project, walking the construction site at different occasions to observe work in progress, and consulting the literature. Takt planning was used on this Project in the overhead work phase and in a different way also in the in-wall and interior finishes phase. The Project delivery team also studied options to takt the commissioning phase but did not settle on a work structure suitable to result in a functional takt plan. Takt planning of the interior finishes- and especially of the commissioning phase needs further study and experimentation on other projects. Research findings stress the importance of using a number of project delivery practices judiciously and in combination with takt planning: 1. Commercial terms that include shared risk-and-reward incentives, so that project participants will have a stake in overall project success and fully engage in takt planning. 2. Merck’s “One Team” concept, whereby the owner with all Trade Partners (on-site and off-site) meet on a regular basis to jointly steer the project in the desired direction and stay on course as the project unfolds and uncertainties manifest themselves. 3. Decoupling of phases of work, so that they can overlap in part and proceed concurrently to allow for speedy project completion. 4. Early Trade Partner involvement in project planning, particularly in the development of takt plans, so that everyone involved will have ownership in the takt planning process and be committed to the takt plan’s success in execution. Effectively, Trade Partners need to: Help decide on takt zoning and select the takt time, based on project specifics, means and methods to use, and other project throttles. Forecast what crew sizes both on- and off-site they will need, and commit to providing them. Be transparent and honest on current progress (i.e., distinguish whether work in a takt is “done” or really “done-done”). 5. Early Trade Partner engagement in design, so that construction knowledge can help to structure supply chains aligned with on-site work for accelerated delivery using takt. 6. Prefabrication to reduce on-site work density, so that the takt of certain trains (such as those involving MEP systems) can be shortened. Lessons learned from this Project’s takt plan development and implementation include: 1. The decision to takt a project must be made early in design. This is the same as for the decision to use modular construction and off-site fabrication, which also must be made early in design. 2. Those involved early-on in the project can develop a preliminary takt plan to determine feasibility of a fast project schedule (takt planning as execution strategy) and then relay and refine that takt plan with Trade Partners once they are on-boarded (takt planning as operational strategy). 3. Trade Partners brought into design can offer construction input and inform “design for takt.” 4. Much of a project’s repetitive as well as non-repetitive work can be scheduled with takt. Generally speaking, more work scheduled with takt is better, because of the benefits achieved with takt planning. 5. Takt times and corresponding zones will vary with the nature of the work and Trade Partners involved. Expect takt and zones to change from one project phase to the next (e.g., Overhead MEP-, In-wall-, versus Finishes phases). 6. Methods exist to date to takt component-based work (e.g., installation of unit materials and assemblies). In contrast, further study is needed on how and when to structure systems-based work (e.g., commissioning) so that it too can be planned with takt. 7. Do not expect that all work will be part of a takt train. Projects often have one-off work (e.g., MRI rooms, elevators) that due to their unique complexity is better scheduled separately and possibly without takt. 8. Takt planning is a work structuring method that goes hand-in-hand with the Last Planner® System: the work must be made ready in order to achieve high work flow reliability and on-takt performance. Do not implement one without the other. 9. In accordance with the Last Planner® System, projects should maintain a workable backlog of tasks (i.e., tasks that are not part of a takt plan) that can be done to make effective use of capacity in case work in a takted process (a “takt train”) finishes early or falls through. 10. Areas not on a takt plan must be tightly coordinated (e.g., work in the corridors was coordinated on a daily basis). 11. Separate resources must be dedicated to work that is takted versus non-takted, e.g., for equipment start-up. 12. Procurement and long-lead items require their own delivery schedules. Should these not be reflected on a takt plan, they must nevertheless be synchronized with those plans. 13. Once takt trains have been established, adjusting the schedule is straightforward. Takt allows for multiple trains to run in parallel (e.g., staggering of floors as was the case on this Project) or for a train to speed-up or slow-down in order to meet the overall schedule’s demand (e.g., by throttling crew sizes). 14. Buffers of time are needed in or between takt trains to articulate the time to perform “go-back work,” rectify failed inspections, etc. In case of failure, process capability then also needs to be enhanced to avoid such rework. 15. Weekends and holidays (and holiday weeks) naturally offer buffering opportunities. While adding buffers means adding time to a schedule, that time allowance helps prevent reverberations through the schedule in case crews need make-up time. 16. Takt plans are visual management tools. In comparison to Gantt charts and CPM schedules, they offer significant visual benefits in getting and keeping everyone on the same page. Recognizing that the use of takt in the construction industry is still relatively new, this report on the Project’s successful implementation of takt planning should help inform and educate future project teams that wish to succeed with takting their work. It is the fine-tuning and use of the aforementioned project delivery practices in combination with takt planning that will allow for ever-faster project execution.