There are few projects more complex, difficult, and expensive than rebuilding a gate at an existing airport. Inoperable during construction, gate closures create huge losses for airlines. Further, doing the construction work in a live airport setting is especially tricky for the craftspeople working the project. Often toiling away in the middle of the night to avoid passenger crowds, these projects tend to run especially long since they can’t use most of the daylight hours. Upgrading a gate can wreak havoc on airport employees, travelers, and construction crews alike.
Most efforts to speed up gate projects are incremental in nature, such as adding additional tradespeople or paying out incentive rewards to get the job done quicker. Tiny gains, but nothing to write home about. Such was the case until last month in Dallas when everything changed.
The brilliantly creative folks at the Dallas / Fort Worth Airport (DFW) decided to pursue a radical alternative: they built the gates remotely. A freestanding construction site was established on the expansive airport property, greatly reducing many of the inherent challenges of building a new gate in a busy terminal. Crews could work in the bright Texas sun. Delivering materials became easy instead of a giant pain. Security concerns were reduced. Passengers weren’t bothered and could use the existing gates throughout the project.
After the last passengers left the terminal on August 26, four new gates were transferred across the runway on high-tech flatbed trucks. The new shiny steel and glass structures were then welded onto the building, replacing the old cramped and outdated structures in the blink of an eye. This remote-building approach helped deliver the project 20% faster at a 25% lower cost than traditional construction methods. All the while, making everyone’s life a whole lot easier.
Especially in these turbulent times, many of us are facing difficult challenges. To enjoy the best possible outcomes, let’s leave the safe harbors of traditional thinking to explore alternative approaches. Let’s challenge ourselves to use bold thinking and pursue fresh solutions rather than relying on the stale models of the past.
Today, passengers at DFW airport are enjoying a smoother departure. We too can enjoy a smooth departure from conventional wisdom when we challenge ourselves to find the alternative. And there’s always an alternative, even to those seemingly intractable problems.
Scout for alternative approaches to enjoy a first-class upgrade in results. Your scheduled departure is now boarding.