Complex and Time Critical Projects: Singapore Grand Prix

Jonathan Giesecke
This year marks FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX’s 10-year anniversary and our involvement as the Engineering Project Manager. That seems a great time to take a look at the successes and lessons learned from the Home of Formula 1® Night Racing.

The FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND is an amazing event; the only street race at night under lights. Drivers take just under two hours to complete 61 laps in 30°C heat and 80-90 per cent humidity, in what many cite as the most spectacular race on the calendar.

Faithful+Gould – Engineering Project Managers

We’re responsible for the seamless construction, operation and removal of the racing circuit and its supporting facilities. Fifteen of our team work year-round on the project, and another 25 join the team for an intensive three- to four-month period. I relocated to Singapore in 2008 to establish the first event, and I’ve been involved ever since.

Multiple Stakeholder Management

A lot of organisations are involved in making this a success. We undertake multiple stakeholder management, supporting race promoter Singapore GP in managing relations with the Formula One Management (FOM), Fédération Internationale d l’Automobile (FIA), works contractors, Singapore Tourism Board, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Land Transport Authority, the police and neighboring businesses. This ongoing engagement forms much of our work during the project’s off-season.

Agile Process

We aim to minimise disruption. Although it’s a three-month installation, each element of the infrastructure is installed as late as possible – a very agile process. The roads close on Wednesday, and the circuit is ready for the systems’ test and speed trial on Thursday. We also take account of other events’ logistics in the circuit park area in the run-up to the race, such as the National Day, which celebrates Singapore’s anniversary of independence.

Lessons Learned

As a recurrent event, it’s an ideal opportunity for benefiting from lessons learned. We put a huge effort into reviewing each year’s project performance, conducting debriefs with all stakeholders. We’ve resolved many challenges and every year we learn more, adapting our project leadership accordingly.

Overcoming Challenges

Improved Road Closure Schedule

The road closure period has significantly reduced over the years. Localised lane closures are now implemented, so barriers can be progressively installed. Peak hour traffic flow is now facilitated through some areas of the circuit. Road closures have been reduced from 12 days in 2008 to five days in 2015.

Resolved Dust Issues

A clean track is very important and dust was a big problem. Improvements were achieved each year. In 2008, the track was prepared with traditional road sweepers, but dust from the nearby construction and the inability of road sweepers to agitate dust in the voids of the pavement were causing problems. Our in-house research, including liaising with many other Grand Prix locations, finally identified TrackJet aviation runway cleaning equipment, which has now resolved the issue.

Improved Temporary Power Supply

The event’s temporary diesel generators found it hard to cope. We achieved greater reliability and an 80% cost reduction by closer scrutiny of power usage, sourcing more efficient, smaller and cheaper temporary generators, and making more use of permanent power supplies.

Improved Track Lighting System

Track lighting system failure is one of the greatest risks on the project. The contingency modes have always been complex, and until 2014, relied on UPS as part of the plan. From 2014, we replaced the UPS, maintaining the existing generator arrangement, but installing cable looping between adjacent generator zones to provide 50 percent capacity in the event of localised failure.

Leading High-profile Complex Projects

This is a unique project, but the principles we use to manage it are applicable to any high-profile project demanding complex stakeholder negotiation. In the ‘triple constraint’ project management model of scope, schedule and resource barriers, Singapore Grand Prix is heavily weighted on the schedule element.

Tight Schedule

The project can’t even be one second late – it starts at 8pm on September 14 and the audience, competitors, promoters, sponsors, broadcasters and viewers are relying on that precision timing. Our team must deliver accurately, ensuring the 70-plus contracts are delivered. That tight schedule means that identification and assessment of risk is critical. The development of contingency plans is of paramount importance – for instance, we have spare materials, standby equipment and extra resources, in case they’re needed.

The Sound of Success

Although the project has become easier after nine years’ experience, we still get the same buzz that we all felt when we first became involved. As we approach the great night, I’d like to wish our engineering project management team, Singapore GP, Singapore Tourism Board and everyone involved in the 2017 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX another successful year.

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