November already! Thanksgiving…good food, family, friends…oh yeah, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade! Looking forward to these exciting events, we often forget about all of the preparation and management work that needs to be done for them become the extravaganzas they are. Another name for these prep items? Logistics. It’s the secret weapon behind every project. The thing that most never think about when they’re enjoying a meal at a great restaurant, watching a parade, or strolling through a new office.
Logistics are the gears that drive every project, and the management style often determine their success or failure of the job. It’s time we take a look at how our world happens in front of our eyes, and what we’re all doing to move the gears. We’ll use comparisons between construction and the Macy’s Day Parade to show how there is so much important work that goes on behind the curtains to make the big show, a big deal.
Technology and Job Quality
Okay, so this one is a no-brainer right? We have all felt the impact that new technologies have had on our lives, from organizational tools to subway directions, to quick dinner recipes. In 2006 the New York Police Department started using “Skywatch”, a mobile tower technology unit that allows officers to scan for potential issues. One of the first events these watch towers were used at was the Macy’s Day Parade. Years prior to the implementation of Skywatch several accidents occurred in which pedestrians were injured due to runaway floats. The introduction of Skywatch technology aided in making the parade a safer event to attend.
Likewise, new technologies are revolutionizing the way construction operates. With many now beginning to use drones to inspect jobs, the age of the technological construction site is upon us. By the same token, interactive tracking systems allow workers to clock in and out from many different jobs in the same day, alleviating back-office strain and increasing work flow. In general, integrating new technologies into our lives makes the logistics side run smoother, and that means less headaches. Tablets in the field help to speed up the paperwork process and communication between trades and architects, all while keeping jobs progressing at an efficient pace.
The Guideline Pipeline
The Thanksgiving Day Parade follows strict guidelines; each float and balloon has a specific set of qualifications to meet. Without meeting those conditions, the attraction cannot participate in the event. Many of these specifications are designed to influence safety around the site. In a similar way, a job site makes safety the top priority by adhering to strict guidelines.
We all know it; construction is loud. Accommodations need to continually be made to keep the balance between getting the job done and maintaining a natural workplace environment for the client. Much like the parade, this includes safety considerations for both pedestrians and workers. Forming safety committees allows checks and balances between the staff and field teams to foresee potential issues and solve them quickly. Like the “Skywatch” of a construction site, the safety team oversees jobs to scan for potential issues.
Clean-Work Makes the Dream Work
The Thanksgiving Day Parade and a construction site have at least this in common: they can get messy. However, the mess need not linger long if managed correctly. Macy’s keeps the price of The Thanksgiving Day parade a secret, but they spend an estimated $30,000 per year on cleaning it up and returning the city to a normalized state. The nature of a parade means that it will cover a large area of space in a short period of time, bringing together multiple different ideas all at once, and leaving a trail of debris behind it. A typical construction site is no different. Any construction job has a similar cost associated with it called general conditions.
General conditions is the overall cost of site management, daily/final cleaning, and safety measures that keeps the job running smoothly. Factoring in demolition teams, electricians, plumbers, and carpenters that can all converge on a job in one day, the final result can produce a lot of debris. Bouncing between multiple floors of a single building requires coordination between all parties involved in the project to ensure a successful product that, like the parade, must be cleaned during and after the event.
The key to success in a management process such as this is the schedule, an important part in any endeavor. It’s vital to get input from all parties involved in the project throughout the course of the job. To do this, all trades have to agree that their time is being respected, valued, and is adequate to complete their responsibilities. In a perfect world, every job would go smoothly with each trade being allotted sufficient time to complete their work. However, when hiccups occur, communication is essential to keeping the project on time. If all else fails, the schedule is the backbone of the communication network for keeping the job on track.
Appreciating the Process
Typically when it comes to large scale projects they differ mostly in details. Forming a management schedule everyone is on good terms with, following the guidelines of the specific venue, and keeping the grounds safe and clean is necessary to ensure a successful job every time. While logistics are often the drag work of the job, they are vital in making sure the work is done on time and with excellent quality, whether it be a construction site or a parade grounds.
As we enter this holiday season we are thankful for the opportunity to execute the specifics of logistics; without them we wouldn’t be able to have all the fun that we do building our jobs. When you’re watching the parade this Thanksgiving with your family, make sure to take a second to appreciate all the fine planning and details that went into the process. Enjoy!