That’s the Way We Always Do It

| April 30, 2020

by John Cannistraro

I never thought the day would come when traffic patterns throttled back to 1970, and I’d be wishing for bumper to bumper again! The alarm clock doesn’t need to ring at 4:30 a.m. Wake-up is as automatic as the day is full of Teams chats, Zoom meetings, and webinars.

The surprisingly smooth, business-as-usual rhythm during this shut down is possible because of technology. Not just that we have these communication tools enabling our virtual work day, but more importantly, that we have readily learned to adapt AND adopt in just a few weeks. The AEC Industry can benefit greatly from this lesson. I’m fairly certain that in the new economy, the phrase: “Because that’s the way we always do it” will no longer stop us from trying something different.

Boston’s New Home for Fabrication Industry and Design (a.k.a. The FID), located at 25 Fid Kennedy Avenue in Boston

When the back-to-work call sounds, owners will rely on design and construction teams to complete ongoing projects, and deliver new projects, more cost effectively than ever before. Two months ago, when a project fell behind schedule, more workers were added as the sole remedy. How will we play catch-up when that is no longer possible? The impending rules for continuous work area disinfection, worker distancing, and other enhanced precautions will change every process onsite.

We are ready to leverage technology and willing to innovate, to focus on one goal: keeping tradespeople safe and efficient, while they work to keep the project schedule. And we must plan for it, now.

A strategy built on daily pre-task planning, constant communication, and choreographed sequencing of work is our best way forward for risk management. Moreover, offsite fabrication is an ideal solution to supplement limited on-site crew sizes. Transferring assembly of structural, architectural, and MEP from the field to the shop will improve workflows and management of new rules onsite; thereby reducing the burden of wasteful cost to the project.

Field constructed components previously commonplace, can now be preassembled in a controlled  manufacturing environment in Boston. Delivery to jobsites can be scheduled daily and just in time for immediate installation in a dedicated work area. Repeated over and over, and measurable, the project is completed in a safe and efficient manner. This way of thinking can be applied without a re-design to just about any project that is already under construction.

This is Lean. These are the tools we know well, but often falter at implementing collectively, across all parties, in the face of a pressing schedule and no time to plan. We fall back on the comfort of “the way we have always done it.”

Now that we are forced out of our comfort zone, it is time to implement new ways of working. All it takes is a willingness to leverage existing technology and the talent of our industry.


John Cannistraro

John Cannistraro is president at JC Cannistraro, LLC.



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Category: All, contributor, Technology & Innovation

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