Usually when one hears the term “mission critical,” it’s safe to assume failure or disruption. But, for the folks at ESI Group, Hartland, Wis., it means the exact opposite.

That’s because when a customer like WinCo Foods, comes forward with an idea to build a large Greenfield distribution center under an aggressive construction schedule, ESI Group says okay, done.

Case in point: ESI Group completed a 902,000-square-foot Greenfield food distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., from the ground up in just 48 weeks, including design and engineering.

One item that made this project unique was its phasing. The project had eight phases. In order to expedite design, ESI Design Services (ESID) would develop a complete Phase 1 set of construction documents. While ESI Constructors (ESIC) had Phase 1 out for bid, ESID developed Phase 2 of the construction documents and so forth. Rather than having all construction documents done prior to bid, ESID and ESIC worked simultaneously, so that the design schedule would have as little impact on the construction schedule as possible. This was the strategy through all phases of design and construction.

Additionally, ESI workers and subcontractors worked through the summer heat, starting under the lights as early as 12 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., six days a week. Three construction managers—two during the day and one at night—worked around the clock to ensure ESI Group delivered a high-quality facility in WinCo’s aggressive timeline. Quality control testing for the project utilized 10,525 man hours, which equals 5.06 people a year.

Other factors that made this project unique—and successful—were the daily coordination and schedule monitoring of subcontractor activities, continuous monitoring and expediting of material deliveries to assure materials were on-site prior to install dates and weekly coordination meetings with the owner representatives and subcontractors. And, all subcontractors received monthly schedule updates.

To ensure success, phased design and building construction allowed bidding and construction to proceed without completed design documents. Phased permitting with the city expedited the start of construction. And, use of multiple subcontractors in different building phases ensured adequate manpower was available to maintain schedule requirements.

WinCo Foods maintains its title as the leader in supermarket low prices, and relied on ESI Group to complete the distribution center in a more than timely manner in order to better service their existing stores and save money on the transportation of goods. ESI Group developed and maintained an early jump on the overall project schedule, met with regulatory officials to determine permitting requirements and processes and procured long lead equipment during the early phases of the project.

At the end of the day, the new distribution center comprised of a 104,000-square-foot -12°F freezer, 176,000 square feet of refrigerated space, 288,000 square feet of dry storage, 198,600 square feet of perishable and dry dock space and 135,400 square feet of support areas and support block buildings.

However critical the mission is, ESI Group’s ability to plan and execute make it so no mission is too critical for a tight schedule.

— Mike Schwartz, director of field operations for ESI Constructors