Mission critical is a term that gets thrown around a lot. Maybe it’s because it sounds like the latest Tom Cruise movie, but more likely it’s probably because most people don’t know what it means. So, when a contractor claims they perform mission critical construction, what does that mean?

The meaning of mission critical is straightforward—if something is so essential to an organization’s mission that a malfunction would cause business to halt, then that something is mission critical. There’s another element, though, that your contractor uses to distinguish mission critical work from regular projects. If a malfunction would affect public security and safety, then that item is also deemed mission critical.

For instance, imagine trying to call 911 and not hearing a dial tone, or if your entire city suddenly loses power, water, or gas. Or if the plane you’re on and all the other planes at that airport, lose communication with air traffic control. The organizations responsible for these and similar functions simply cannot be without the resources they need to protect the public.

When a company says they perform mission critical construction, they’re saying they are trained and experienced to work for this type of organization in their highly technical, and often very confidential, facility. They have experience working around the many different systems at play, and can perform work on one system without impacting the organization’s day-to-day operations.

Many times, the work isn’t especially complex, but it is challenging because the work must be done without an impact to the facility or its mission. For example, a business needs to replace its faulty light fixture in a hallway. In a typical facility, an electrician would show up, turn off power to the fixture, climb a ladder, remove the old fixture, install the new fixture, climb down the ladder, re-energize it, and walk away.

However, if this was a mission critical facility, the process would look quite a bit different. There would be conversations weeks in advance to answer pertinent questions. Can the work take place during normal business hours or will it need to occur at night or on the weekend?  Does that hallway need to be secured during this work and does alternative egress need to be in place? Who uses the hallway and what are the times that it needs to be accessible?

There would also be a discussion as to whether temporary lighting needed to be installed during the brief outage. The electrician would need to investigate the electrical circuit feeding the light before any work took place so he/she knew what other equipment it feeds and determine if temporary power to those other devices would be necessary during the electrical outage. Of course, the electrician would need to implement a lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) protocol to ensure the safety of the workers and facility. The electrician would need to vacuum the light fixture with HEPA filter before taking it down, bag the light fixture, and remove it from the building to ensure no dust enters the facility.

The facility manager or other personnel would write a step-by-step Method of Procedure (MOP) explaining in detail every step required to complete the work, as well as a backup plan should something go wrong before all the steps were completed. All parties involved would review the MOP and sign it. The MOP might even require a dry-run prior to performing the work. The electricians performing the work would need to go through security, which takes time. The company the electrician works for would need to provide specific names to the facility, as well as confirmation the electrician has cleared a background check and has Employment Eligibility Verification forms on file.

The lesson here is this: The same scope of work can require a drastically different process and skill level and have different measures of success based purely on where the work is being performed. Hiring an experienced mission critical construction contractor can greatly expedite the process. An experienced contractor will come in with a “first do no harm” mindset, evaluate anything and everything that could possibly go wrong, and work to mitigate any risks.

Nabholz can be that experienced contractor. Check out what we’ve done and what we can do for you.

Check out a few of our mission critical projects in our portfolio (note: many of our mission critical construction clients request confidentiality, so this is just a small sample our work).

Nabholz is qualified to provide these services:

  • Standby Generator Installations
  • UPS I STS I RPP I PDU Battery Installations
  • CRAH I CRAC I Chiller Cooling Tower I Condenser Installations
  • Early Warning Fire Detection VESDA I Fire Suppresion Installations
  • Utility + Primary Electrical Switchgear Upgrades
  • Raised Floor Installations
  • Complete Roof Replacements
  • Cable Television Infrastructure Construction
  • Emergency Response Tornado I Flooding Building Equipment + Power Failures