Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 1 (Mozart vs. Phish)

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If you’re in construction, believe it or not, you’re in manufacturing too. Although, your product cycle can be quite short (one piece per cycle, in the case of a multi-story tower) there are some amazing comparisons that can be made when examining the construction of $200 million building versus a $200 million airplane.

Commercial airplanes such as the Boeing 747 provide an interesting comparison with skyscrapers in terms of unit cost, complexity, lead time and scale. The one glaring difference is in the methods used to direct and monitor the assembly process. To draw a crude analogy in musical terms, building a commercial airliner is like performing Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, while building a 40-story tower is like jamming at a Phish show. One is a precise, tightly controlled process that produces beautiful music, while the other follows a loose, organic happening that can also produce beautiful music.

However, in reality the music of a jam band can suffer dramatically if one of the players is having an off night. And without a “conductor” to bring that individual player quickly back in line, an individual error can quickly propagate to ruin the song.

Workers on a construction site can suffer from the occasional off day as well. The difference is that an off day in construction can cost a few million bucks.

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One Response to “Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 1 (Mozart vs. Phish)”

  1. Flying Blind - Part 1 (Mozart vs. Phish) | Construction Materials Says:

    […] Rob Mathewson wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIf you’re in construction, believe it or not, you’re in manufacturing too. Although, your product cycle can be quite short (one piece per cycle, in the case of a multi-story tower) there are some amazing comparisons that can be made … […]

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