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A Tale Of Two Load-Ins: Lessons In Organization & Efficiency On The Job Site

Some friendly guidance for those in change of making logistical decisions at events.
The photos with this article show just a few of the many various paths to travel (many, many times) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

“We’ll push from the loading docks to this area for staging, then we’ll separate it according to which floor it goes to. Be aware of what’s going on around you, and above all, be safe. Let’s get to it.”

Thus began the load-in for a corporate gathering of 20,000-plus attendees at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Unloading trucks and sorting the equipment to go to the storeroom on each of four floors for more than 50 breakout rooms. Not as sexy as mixing front of house for a headliner, but it pays the bills, and it’s easy money, except for pushing road cases from one end of the building to the other in one of the largest convention centers in the country during the load-in and load-out.

That first day, everyone in the small army of stagehands and technicians logged about 12 miles on foot. At the end of the day, my feet were begging me for relief. Organizationally, it was very different from a similar load-in last year.

Back & Forth

The two rooms to which I was assigned were on the extreme south end of the building but directly above the meal room, which was one floor below. Those of us who had to trek from the opposite end of the building for lunch had a full 15-minute walk at the pace of an OFG (Old Fat Guy). Thirty minutes roundtrip.

The second day was sign-in on the third floor in the main staging room/temporary headquarters, then push from the staging room on each floor to the individual meeting rooms. More walking. Back and forth, from one end of the building to the other. Once that was done, we could begin setting up our individual rooms according to a diagram and equipment list.
The third and fourth days were the easy money. Sign in on the third floor in the main headquarters room, then monitor the room to which we were assigned.

The fifth day had sessions in the rooms that morning, then lunch, then strike, push, and load – the usual routine. Some of the empty road cases would fit behind the fast-fold screens with dress kits, while the rest went back to the staging room. More walking.

The trek from my room to the staging room on my floor was 7.5 minutes without pushing a road case. Minimum 15 minutes round trip. (I lost count of the number of times I made that trip, but it was easily an average of six per day. That’s an hour-and-a-half of just walking that the client has to pay for. Multiply that times the number of other technicians who did the same thing, and you’re looking at entire work days in the aggregate of just walking. By my estimation, almost half of what the client paid for on this gig was walking.

Showing The Way

Compare that with a gig I did last year. Same venue, approximately the same number of attendees, and approximately the same number of breakout rooms, but a very different organizational approach.

The on-site crew lead had separated the project into zones, and each road case was clearly marked to go to a particular zone. Each zone had a lead who was responsible for gathering the equipment at the warehouse prior to the event and deploying it on site.

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