Last week, I posted a quote about a car industry executive and asked you to guess who it was from a list of famous leaders. 12 of the 29 respondents thought is was about Taiichi Ohno, and only 5 about Ferdinand Porsche, the designer of the best selling car in history, the Volkswagen Beetle, among others, including early electric and hybrid cars.
The following is a quote about a prominent car industry executive:
“The workers at the factory were not used to the boss being so hands-on. Their previous boss was a behind-the-scenes manager and had rarely shown his face on the floor. But he was almost always in their midst. This was a place where distance was part of the work environment and certain lines were just not crossed. He crossed them. The engineers in their clean white coats were offended when he climbed under their test cars and growled at them for not having figured out things he could see quite clearly. They had to get their hands dirty, he said, and stop all this standing around.”
“The idea of takt time comes from car manufacturing. It shows the elapsed time between two completely assembled cars leaving the factory floor. If the takt time is 2 hours, it means that the factory produces 12 cars a day (24h/2h = 12)…”
A nice effort from a software developer to discuss the relevance of the concept of takt to his profession, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, he gets a few details wrong.
The first sentence is “The idea of takt time comes from car manufacturing.” Well, not exactly. Try aircraft manufacturing in Germany in the 1930s.
His example of a car manufacturing plant making 12 cars/day is a bit odd. I suppose such plants may exist in the extreme luxury end of the industry, but 1,000 cars/day at a takt time of 1 minute while working two shifts/day is more common.
“Car manufacturers are producing the same kind of car over and over again.” Well, not exactly. In the past 100 years, the industry has changed. You now make multiple models of cars on the same line, and each unit has its own build manifest with configuration options.
And car companies do not change the takt time every week. It’s more like every four months. Contrary to what the author says, the takt time is not a tool for throughput prediction. The throughput prediction is an input to the calculation of the takt time, which is a tool to drive how you design and operate production lines. It is adjusted to reflect changes in demand, but not fluctuations, because changing the takt time of a line involves rebalancing the jobs in it.
Having worked in both worlds, I agree that car manufacturing practices are irrelevant to software development. Software development is development, not production. If you want similarity and management tools with crossover value, you should look instead at product development in other industries, not the production of existing products.
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