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ORAT Gives Airport Leaders Control, Cost-Savings, and Assurance

05 April 2021 08:57:57 EDT / by N. Ortez Gude

Airport executives understand very well the complexity involved with bringing a new terminal or other construction project online. No matter how many planners, consultants, or design-build teams take part in the lead-up to opening day, it is the executive team who are under the microscope when opening-day arrives.

Those of us in the industry know about massive, well-publicized failures – ones where the cost  in dollars and euros was only exceeded by the PR damage. What we know (but the public usually does not) is that those opening-day problems likely started months or even years before. Avoiding them requires careful coordination, collaboration, and communication from the planning phase through opening day.

And that’s why Operational Readiness, Activation and Transition (ORAT) was conceived and why it is being implemented worldwide. ORAT is a framework designed to ensure stakeholder engagement and knock down information silos by bridging the gap between construction and operations, thus ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the process. Employed properly, it reduces costly change orders, eliminates post-construction anomalies and prevents big opening-day surprises because it surfaces problems as they arise, before they grow in size and cost.

Less obvious value leakage is caused by the myriad smaller problems and design flaws that can continue to bleed value throughout the life of the project, including its operational life. Deloitte estimates that the ORAT framework can save airports up to 30% when implemented and executed well.

Doing it well, however, isn’t easy.

For all its benefits, ORAT is complex and requires very good planning and organization to achieve its full benefit. The more complex the project, the more challenging it can be to execute. ORAT is fairly new to the US market and as a result even some consultants don’t fully understand how to effectively implement it. That’s why it’s critical that in-house airport teams gain a firsthand understanding of the process, whether they execute ORAT themselves, hire an experienced consultant, or use a blended team.

This series of posts will examine justification, timing, framework, preparation, planning, and execution of ORAT. My goal here is to create a broad understanding and awareness of ORAT and it is intended to be a prerequisite for more in-depth training that will be available soon.

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Tags: airport construction, ORAT, Operational Readiness, Construction Activation

N. Ortez Gude

Written by N. Ortez Gude