Super Bowl Makes Minneapolis the “Most Mobile-Friendly City” in US

One year before the Vikings’ 2017-2108 season even began, preparations were underway for Super Bowl 52 at U.S. Bank Stadium. With over $1 billion invested in permanent network upgrades and Advanced LTE technology, wireless data capacity was increased by 500%.

Preparing for Increased Data Usage

Verizon spent the past off-season increasing DAS capabilities by 48% to handle the exponential jump in traffic and now has over 100 DAS zones stadium-wide. Amidst the upgrade process, Verizon discovered that in-stadium DAS traffic for Vikings home games was greater than the previous Super Bowl in Houston.

On game day, there was over 50 terabytes of cellular data traffic, double the amount from the previous year. To put it in perspective, 50 TB is the equivalent of streaming HD video for 1,208 days straight. WiFi usage also broke the record held previously by last year’s Super Bowl, but numbers have yet to be released. Verizon experienced the highest average download speeds of all national carriers and was used by 57% of attendees, an annual growth of 12%. AT&T saw a slight decrease in in-stadium traffic but led all carriers in traffic outside of the
stadium. According to Verizon and AT&T, top uses for cellular data in and around the stadium included web browsing, video, social media, and other sports apps. The most significant uptick in wireless use was during the halftime performance followed by a large spike during kickoff.

Parsons is proud to have been involved with the design and implementation of these upgrades. Our dedicated field staff worked tirelessly with engineers and vendors to fine-tune and maintain these systems during events to ensure peak mobile performance at not just the Super Bowl, but all venues hosting an event during the week. This cutting-edge technology has made Minneapolis the most mobile-friendly city in the country and reaffirmed Parsons’ position as a premier mobile solutions contractor. Read Verizon’s full list of game-day facts here.

Taking Steps to Execute Our CTS Initiative

In the pursuit of fulfilling our Parsons Technologies vision statement to be the premier technologies innovator, provider, and employer in North America, we recently refocused our training initiatives. One of these initiatives aims to achieve a larger percentage of employees with certification in the Audio Visual (AV) systems industry. The Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential is administered by the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA, formerly InfoComm) and is a symbol of credibility, gives evidence of technical proficiency and professionalism, and shows a commitment to excellence and conformance to industry standards relating to all aspects involved with providing installed AV systems. The CTS certification program has been in operation for 30 years and is the only AV-specific credential that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This certification is widely adopted and recognized in the AV industry among customers and consulting firms and is often listed as a requirement in project specifications.

Individuals from each Parsons branch and department have been selected as candidates for the CTS training and certification program, a total of almost 20 individuals. Parsons entered into a licensing agreement with AVIXA to become a training provider for a preparatory class offered to the CTS candidates before taking their certification exam. This CTS prep class is a 3-day class that covers important topics on the exam and that also have application in the real world. The class is separated into four domains: (A) Creating AV Solutions, (B) Operating AV Solutions, (C) Conducting AV Management Activities, and (D) Servicing AV Solutions. Classes are being broken up into four different sessions based on locations and job responsibilities; the 1st session took place the week of November 20th and the last class will be completed by the end of February 2018. A CTS exam textbook and login access to additional online training are provided to each candidate. One-on-one mentoring is also available to ensure that each person has complete knowledge and the confidence to be able to pass the CTS exam administered by Pearson Vue testing centers.

Continuing education of 30 credits every three years is required to maintain certification, much of which can be achieved through approved online webinars. There are also two specialized tiers of CTS certification; CTS-D for Design and CTS-I for Installation, which further distinguishes commitments to technical competence in these areas.

Parsons currently has six individuals with CTS certification (including two with CTS-D). This initiative is a large step forward in continuing to be the premier provider of AV systems in North America.

 

Planning is Lean

Parsons believes that the Last Planner System is effective because it drives connection between people planning in the office and people executing in the field. Pre-planning is the most important phase of any project and Lean planning boards offer a bird’s eye view of the next six weeks on your project.

Using the Last Planner System to plan our work has had an almost incalculable effect on our teams internally as well as on the project site. These visual planning boards allow our teams to get out of the assumption stage of planning and transition to a demonstrable and concrete plan that we can all collaborate on and reliably commit to.

Assumptions interfere with good planning. Assumptions are when we assume that we know what to do because we are the experts and have done this countless times before. In reality, the size and complexity of projects have increased throughout the years. The failures and pitfalls of project execution lie in the assumption that we are all on the same page, which is easier said than done. The Last Planner System creates visual planning boards that serve as an opportunity to illuminate all assumptions and turn them into agreements based upon the conversations held during the early planning phases. These visual boards allow us a comprehensive view of the project in six-week increments while thoughtfully managing the work we plan to accomplish, as well as eliminating the constraints that include unanswered RFI’s, design clarifications, or vendor equipment clarifications. The Last Planner keeps the team planning and eliminating constraints on a weekly basis.

Thank you for following our Lean Ready videos! Although this is the final week of our Lean Ready series, this is just the continuation of our Lean journey—and hopefully yours as well! Being Lean is a mindset involving continued dedication to reevaluating your work at all stages of execution and asking yourself a series of questions, including: “What can I do to improve this?”

If you would like to look back at the entire series, you can look at the Lean tag on our website or check out our Lean Ready album on Vimeo. As always, we welcome your engagement on our blog or on social media.

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Reliable Commitments are Lean

Reliable commitments require reliable planning. Parsons uses Lean planning boards which become a spatial tracking system for achieving project milestones and deadlines.

Without reliable commitments to our customers and trade partners, planning will fail. Lean Ready teams are prepared to deliver on their commitments to the rest of the team, striving to improve established commitments through Lean thinking. What does Lean thinking focus on? Eliminating waste to create reliable workflow throughout the project life cycle.

We have come to realize that waste is everywhere, because everything is a process, whether you’re making a cup of coffee or installing a light fixture. There will be less process waste if you come out of automation mode to watch and learn. During your observations, you will find waste and recognize ways to eliminate it. We are often in a rush or planning on the fly, so we do not have the necessary time to properly address real problems. These problems are frequently fixed with temporary solutions, but being Lean Ready has taught us to plan early enough so that we can keep an eye open for improvement on existing standards. As a result, efficiency improves in addition to reliably committing quality to our customers and trade partners.

Although we have one week left of our 7 Week Lean Ready series, Lean doesn’t stop here. We welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Team Integration is Lean

Lean Ready teams are integrated teams. These team members have thoroughly planned each phase of their work early on and are prepared to engage with the collective trade partners to determine the most efficient transition between trades. They have vetted through constraints and are better prepared to reliably commit to the rest of the team.

A Lean Ready team starts each project with the appropriate tools necessary to execute the project successfully. Imagine how much better your project could be with efficient planning, team cooperation, and effective communication. At Parsons, we believe that if our project team is skilled at team integration, our customer’s project benefits with better performance.

Project team integration is another way of saying project coordination between team members. When teams integrate correctly, the project benefits as a whole. Our Lean Ready teams have processes in place that help foster integration, which in turn prepares us to fully integrate with the project teams on site. These processes include but are not limited to, discussions around site material handling, punctual delivery schedules, all materials on wheels, tact, and flow, and the elimination of constraints and barriers make being Lean Ready an asset to our customers.

Have you worked on an integrated team? If so, what was the most important take away from that experience? As always, we welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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We Deliver Flow

Being a Lean Ready team helps with project flow. As a whole, project flow refers to the manner in which work progresses through the project lifecycle system. “Good” flow describes a system where work moves through steadily and predictably, whereas “bad” flow describes a system where work stops and starts frequently. Reliable and predictable planning reduces starts and stops which improves project flow.

Our Lean Ready teams are mapping their processes for each phase of the project lifecycle to align their teams better and to look for any waste in their current processes. We prepare ourselves to assist in the trade partner project planning sessions by being fully aware of what we are capable of delivering and how soon we can deliver it. Accomplishing this involves eliminating waste in our own processes—including the early detection and removal of constraints that could impact our workflow. We are vetting our lead time constraints, design, materials, and the decisions needed before production starts.

Flexibility ensures that even when there is an obstacle at the job site, the project team is ready to make accommodations to finish on time or ahead of schedule, regardless of the circumstances. Parsons applies Lean Planning to create a flow-supportive project environment on each job site. What ways do you ensure flexibility on a job or at the office?

So far we’ve covered safety, scheduling, and flexibility in our Lean Ready series. We hope it’s inspired you to look at ways you can be Lean Ready in everything you do. We’ll leave week five’s topic a mystery, but for the time being, we welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Schedules are Lean

Our schedules are Lean! Shortened schedules are part of meeting the ongoing needs of our customers. One of our solutions to continually meet this need is to be Lean Ready when we begin to schedule. When we reduce the duration of different processes on site, the final cost (which includes time and materials) decreases for everyone. This leads to greater savings for our customers.

Being Lean Ready means we plan early to determine prefabrication opportunities. When we can build assemblies in our prefabrication shop we can reduce the amount of time we need on the project site to get our work installed. Using this approach, onsite slab and wall rough-in work is often cut in half, which allows for the project teams to move on to the next stage in construction.

Reducing material handling labor, eliminating defects, reducing waiting times, and focusing our talent on value added tasks creates a reduced schedule while increasing overall value for our customers—something that is beneficial to everyone involved on the project. How do you schedule? Do you use Lean to improve efficiency and reduce waste? Have you considered all of the areas that there might be waste? Are your schedules Lean?

This is the third video in our Lean Ready series. As always, we welcome your engagement on this blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Safety is Lean

What motivates you to stay safe on the job site? Our safety program Journey to Zero and our Lean Ready practices improve job site safety because lean projects plan ahead for the right equipment needs. Not only that, Lean job sites are clean and organized with reduced material handling and less job site waste.

Part of safety is planning and that’s what lean is. If you have a good plan you’ll have tools there.
Our Lean Ready practices incorporate early planning to identify ways to reduce onsite material, waste handling, and onsite storage. We create detailed material handling plans to accommodate project flow through the work spaces throughout the life of the project. Just in time deliveries reduce storage clutter which helps keep the site clean. Materials on wheels improve the handling of materials that are on the site. A clean job site is a safer job site and ultimately means there are fewer things to move around, trip hazards, and opportunities for an individual to strain their muscles moving unnecessary material or using inappropriate tools and equipment.

This is the second video in our Lean Ready series. We welcome your engagement and sharing of this content. Let’s get Lean!

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We are Lean Ready

Construction Week 2017 may be over, but it never really stops for us. With an increasing number of projects emphasizing site safety, it’s important for us to continue to develop and invest our time in new ways that reinforce safe and efficient construction. This shift has led us to focus on Lean construction practices.

But what is Lean? Lean Construction (known as just Lean to us) allows us to better serve our customers by identifying value from the customers’ perspective and laying out the processes necessary to deliver that value. For each activity, the necessary labor, equipment, information, and materials are defined.

Practicing Lean improves safety on the job site, team integration, efficacy of scheduling, and flow of a project. However, the biggest reason Lean is an asset for us on a job is that it helps us stay accountable with our commitments and planning.

Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be releasing videos of interviews with our employees who are immersed in Lean culture. You’ll be able to hear firsthand why we believe in Lean and how it is improving construction outcomes for our customers. We welcome you to share these videos and engage with us on social media over the next seven weeks—what about Lean interests you?

 

After Construction Week is Over, What’s Next?

Construction Week is wrapping up tomorrow, but skilled trade-workers are always in demand. Parsons is proud to be involved in numerous projects across the country. As the NFL season heats up, many stadiums rely on Parsons high quality service to operate at peak performance. Ford Field in Detroit recently underwent renovations, including the complete upgrade/replacement of their bowl audio system, a large broadcast cable upgrade, concourse & other internal audio system upgrades. Parsons not only delivered on our promise of excellent quality, but got the project done under budget and before the deadline.

Another Detroit project recently completed is the Little Caesars Arena, new home of two of Detroit’s professional teams; the Pistons and the Red Wings. The arena features a revolutionary design that could influence the future of stadium building in other cities. Little Caesars Arena seats up to 21,000 patrons during events, while also housing the practice facility of the Red Wings and Little Caesars AAA hockey club.

The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ recently worked with Parsons to install the largest center-hung scoreboard in all professional sports arenas, a title once held by Little Caesars Arena. Parsons also installed upgraded ribbon boards, all in record time.

A short trip from Parsons corporate headquarters, parts of the University of Minnesota Athletes Village finished up construction earlier this year, while additional parts are still being worked on. This $166 million, 340,000 sq. ft. project will establish modern development facilities for all Gopher student-athletes, while also bringing a competition-level track back to the University’s East Bank campus. Parsons was also a part of the Tate Hall renovations on the University of Minnesota campus this year.

Parsons is playing a part in the new $485 million Mercyhealth Hospital in Rockford, IL and the project is set to finish sometime in 2019. Construction on the 451,000 sq. ft. hospital and the 81,500 sq. ft. clinic will be simultaneous as the team works closely with Mortenson Construction on the monumental project.

We are also involved in the Mayo Clinic health system renovation in Mankato, MN. The $70 million remodel will include a $65 million surgical suite expansion, as well as a $5 million orthopedics and sports medicine renovation. There will be 14 new operating rooms, 43 new private postoperative patient rooms, and a sterile processing department. Progress is set to begin this year, with hopes that the project will be done by mid-2018.

In Milwaukee, another large project is well under way for the Bucks. The $524 million all-purpose arena will be the home court for the Milwaukee Bucks as soon as 2018. The brand new arena will also play host to the NCAA College Basketball tournament in the near future, as well as a full list of concerts in the upcoming year.

The Tesla Gigafactory located 23 miles West of Reno, Nevada, upon completion, will be one of the largest buildings in the world. At 15 million sq. ft. and toting a bill of over $5 billion, the Tesla project will be one for the record books. The purpose of Tesla’s Gigafactory will be to triple the battery production needed to power the number of projected Tesla cars in the future. This building is pivotal to the future of Tesla as it moves towards a larger production scale. If the projections are correct, the company would be able to triple its car output from 500,000 to over 1,500,000 at peak efficiency. The construction should conclude sometime during 2020.

Parsons is honored to be a part of these high profile projects. To wrap up National Construction Week, we wanted to highlight some landmark projects that would not come to fruition without dedicated construction teams. If you have been involved with any of these projects, thank you!

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