Delivering a High-Quality Facility

Barton Malow Company was contracted by FedEx Ground to complete preconstruction and construction management services for an expansion of its existing distribution hub in Chicago.

The Chicago Hub is a crucial component of FedEx Ground’s overall operations; the warehouse serves as one of the main distribution centers for FedEx Ground and manages the distribution of packages nationwide. The Hub Expansion project consisted of expanding the existing distribution hub that initially featured three operational load wings by adding an additional load wing, load wing D, along the south exterior, and updating other facilities onsite. The expansion project makes FedEx Ground’s goal of increasing efficiency and doubling production nationally in the next few years possible.

As a profit-producing facility, it was extremely important Barton Malow’s construction efforts did not hinder FedEx Ground’s daily operations, sortations, and/or deliveries in any way. As a result, site logistics, project phasing, and communication were crucial to FedEx Ground to minimize disruptions, while still maintaining the project schedule and delivering the new load wing on time.

The entire project was broken up into four separate phases; the various phases ranged from the construction of a new, 8-bay maintenance garage and demolition of two existing, outdated maintenance garages onsite, to the expansion of the existing hub facility and completion of all associated sitework and paving.

All About Logistics

Due to the existing facility’s purpose of providing a service that ensures the prompt delivery of goods to clients, coupled with its status as the main distribution hub in the midwest area that is crucial for national operations, it wasn’t an option to shut down the site to expand the existing facility. The Chicago site had to remain fully operational during the entirety of the project and the project team had to ensure they did not intervene with site operations during any stage of the project. Consequently, the project team and the Owner devised a phasing schedule that enabled portions of the project to be completed without interrupting daily operations and negatively impacting FedEx Ground procedures. The primary concern during all phases was ensuring open lanes were always accessible for truck deliveries; the team always communicated all truck egress relocations to the FedEx Ground site superintendent. Additionally, all material deliveries were coordinated daily to maintain proper traffic control and to alleviate any disruptions to FedEx Ground trucking and site operations. 

In addition to open communication and careful planning, the project team devised an innovative approach to ensure FedEx Ground operations could continue as expected. Certain load wings and areas on the site are designated for “critical loads”; these loads, or deliveries, must never be interrupted or changed in any way. For instance, sortations and delivery operations to Alaska are extremely streamlined to ensure packages and goods are delivered on-time as expected. To accommodate these critical loads, as well as all trucking traffic, our team devised a unique pour sequencing approach for all site concrete. Furthermore, the team utilized high early concrete, a concrete with expedited curing abilities, in areas where critical loads took place. The high early concrete reached 4000 psi on day 3, as opposed to standard concrete reaching 4000 psi on day 28. This product substitution permitted FedEx Ground truck traffic to utilize the drive lanes and load wing delivery bays faster than originally possible. 

FedEx Ground mandates that no work is to be completed during “peak shipping season”; peak season is the months of November and December, due to the majority of FedEx Ground’s business being comprised of time-sensitive holiday deliveries. Consequently, FedEx Ground cannot have any interruptions in their delivery schedules or risk the site becoming inoperative during this time. They must maintain their status of being an active plant year round. To satisfy FedEx Ground’s request, while still remaining on-schedule, the project team completed portions of the project that wouldn’t disrupt operations during these months. 

The completion of this project resulted in more than just an expanded distribution facility for FedEx Ground; the new load wing increased the original facility by more than 25%, resulting in a substantial increase in jobs to staff the expanded portion of the facility. FedEx Ground’s dedication to delivering superior services to its clients by expanding the existing distribution hub to facilitate an increase in deliveries, as well as increase efficiency, coupled with the addition of the new jobs in the local communities yields a successful project everyone is proud of.