Window Film Depot: Atlanta, Ga. 2010

Having recently completed a contract for a US Government agency that took our company from Northern Maine to Guam while installing 3M Security Film on over 800 unique job sites, this ‘lessons learned’ posting can help prospective buyers and suppliers of ‘fragment retention films’ (FRF films) benefit from our experience.

Below are five areas to focus on to ensure a successful multi-site security window film installation project.

1.  Have a Dynamic Work and Communication Plan:  Even the best blueprints drawn up by world class architects ‘evolve’ when real world challenges present themslves once the bullets start flying. The same holds true for multi-site installations of window films. As a contractor,work to build the necessary rapor (trust) and stay in constant communication with the client to ensure that when audibles do need to be called, you are able to do what’s necessary in the field to get the job done right.  As the client, listen to your contractor and step in where you can help to remove obstacles to implementing the revised playbook.

2. Align your Organization and Partners: You may be ready for the ‘big time deal’ – but are your staff and vendor partners?  Don’t assume your technicians will be as excited as you are to be in 40 cities in 80 days. Bring key performers into the early planning of the project in order to get their input and insights. ‘Buy-in’ at this stage is essential – and people respond well to collaborative work plans.   Critical vendors and suppliers need to be part of the work plan for cash flow,  product procurement and inventory challenges that lie ahead. Avoid surprises by honestly discussing your needs and concerns, like product availability and shipping deadlines.

3.  Train up and ‘Tech up’ your Team:Installing fragment retention window films on 800 unique sites requires experienced PM’s and professional installers who can think on their feet and have the tools at their disposal necessary to succeed independently. For instance,  field technicians need to be able adapt to a variety of different window and frame types while delivering the installation within GSA or USACE  spec. This requires an investment in training on the latest application techniques provided by 3M distributors, like Energy Products Distribution. Communication is also key between site contacts, project managers and installers. Utilizing smart phones, PDA’s, digital cameras and real time video feeds can often help solve problems instantly –  avoiding costly return trips and missed deadlines.

4. Control the Delivery: Sub-contractors can play an important role on big projects, but need to be a supplement to the core installation team and not left alone to do the work that needs to be done by company employees. As a customer, make sure the company you are hiring is actually doing the work and not acting as a third party facilitator. Nothing can substitute for a boss’s ability to call out to ‘his guys’ and make sure the job gets done no matter what and at the highest standards of installation quality.  Everyone knows that subs respond differently to challenges than employees will and when things get tough, which they inevitably will,  you want “company guys” in the fox holes.

5.  Have a Quality Assurance Plan: Don’t wait to the end of a project to discuss the quality review and QC plan. Be upfront about industry standards and expectations. Retro-fit window films are difficult to install and there are well documented guidelines from the International Window Film Association to help contractor and customer define acceptable installations. During the pre-execution stage, document expectations with digital images of samples. Pay special attention to cure times,  anchoring caulk beads, edge contamination levels, light lines and acceptable layers of haze inherent in some thicker security films.

Always have a service plan in place to take care warranty issues and confirm that all documentation is filed with the film manufacturor to ensure comliance after the  troops return from the field.