Louisville is known for a lot of things associated with southern hospitality—the Kentucky Derby, bourbon and bluegrass music. The town is also home to United Parcel Service Worldport, a facility the size of 80 football fields. UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company and has one of the most extensive technological logistics infrastructures globally.

The Worldport Freight Facility was completed in spring 2006, an $82.5 million project that integrated heavy freight into the UPS system. Measuring 15 acres under one roof, it has a processing capacity of 1.6 million pounds per hour.

Advanced Electrical Systems Inc. (AES), Louisville, won the electrical power and lighting distribution systems for this 653,000-square-foot facility that was constructed of 3,500 tons of steel.

“The real challenge of this project, besides being incredibly fast-paced, was keeping the new construction portion on schedule while simultaneously revamping the existing older building that had to tie into the new construction seamlessly,” said Steve Fusting, AES project manager. “In addition, while retrofitting this older building, which housed the current freight sorting operations, AES had to ensure uninterrupted power for UPS’s ongoing operations.”

The Worldport Freight Facility project had many other requirements. AES crews working in the existing facility had to abide by FAA regulations for security of entrances and exits, as well as working with the challenge of installing high-voltage switchgear on the second-floor mezzanine level, leaving ground-floor space for decks and processing of packages. AES was charged with providing the site’s high-voltage power, building lighting and power distribution and power for the 103 conveyor belts that hang from the ceiling of the building to allow for forklift traffic.

Show them the light

According to James Strange, AES project manager, “UPS is very conscientious about environmental awareness. UPS required that the facility be designed for maximum lighting energy efficiency.”

With almost 400 fork trucks operating in the Freight Facility, visibility was a major concern for the safety of all UPS employees. According to Strange, lighting for the facility consisted of more than 600 Lithonia I-Beam high bay energy-efficient fixtures. AES used a One Pass Lithonia Reloc Wiring System, which made installation faster and made it easier to relocate light fixtures and maintain the facility after operations began.

Installing more than 1,200 fixtures throughout the facility, the One Pass Reloc system gave AES the ability to quickly install all high-bay fixtures. It also allowed for the permanent lighting fixtures to be energized during construction, which resulted in providing a well-lit and safe working environment for all trades. All emergency lighting was designed to provide sufficient battery life and redundant systems throughout the facility, using multiple lighting invertors.

Fire detection

A state-of-the-art fire detection system by Siemens Building Technologies protects the Freight Facility. The fire detection system was tied into the Worldport campus-wide network system. This gives the UPS first response team an immediate notification, with a graphical global network command center, to the exact location of any incidents reported on campus. A graphical display of the system layout in each building gives the operators the ability to zoom down to the individual device for monitoring and control.

The Siemens fire detection system monitors the sprinkler system and controls the pre-action systems installed in the main distribution frame control rooms. Notification devices are provided and installed in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, Mass., codes and standards. All required mechanical systems are provided with duct detectors as well as manual pull stations located at all exit doors.

“Part of the spec package for the fire alarm system included that all vertical runs down the 50-foot columns were to be installed using IMC,” Strange said. Not that this added much difficulty, but it did make installing the 350-plus horn/strobe combinations throughout the facility more time-consuming. AES installed more than 3,000 feet of IMC conduit for the risers and pulled in more than 85,000 feet of fire alarm cable.

The project logged more than 67,000 man-hours for the AES crew. Approximately 75 electricians were on-site throughout most of the project with a peak work force of more than 95. For five months of the project, AES worked five 10-hour shifts and eight-hour shifts on the weekend. AES manned the project with 80 percent of its own work force.

Other project challenges

“Another difficult aspect of the project was that during construction, the facility was eventually tied into the airport property, making it become part of the air operations area (AOA),” Fusting said. “Once fencing was established around the job site perimeter, FAA regulations had to be adhered to. This made accessing the project work site time-consuming and required staggered start/stop times with other trades due to tight security checking into the job site. It was just like checking into an airport but with tool boxes and gang boxes.”

Many of the staging issues were unique to this project site.

“The 75 truck dock doors located inside the building were AOA security levels. However, outside the door was nonsecure,” Fusting said. “We had to have security guards watch supply deliveries unload material in through the doors.”

Adding to complications of completing work around the dock doors, an electrician could not be working inside the building and then hop outside onto the ground to complete his external work on the dock doors. Doing so would be in violation of FAA security. This resulted in the need to work two crews simultaneously at the same dock door location; one on the AOA high-security inside and the other on the outside nonsecure work area.

The construction management firm, Hunt Construction Group Inc., stressed that the completion date would not and could not be extended. Other freight facilities across the country were going to be rerouted through this new facility with flight and trucking plans set in place on an established date.

With UPS constructing its first large Freight Facility, constant changes to the scope of work and building design put a strain on completion date. UPS engineers, along with Hunt and AES engineers, spent many days and weeks tweaking the design. It was imperative to keep critical areas online—computer rooms, conveyor power, etc.—while installing the new 4,000-amp substation in the existing building and reworking all power feeds thoughout and into the new substation.

“Our team approach is designed to ensure successful management of our customer’s projects—safely, on time and within budget,” said Evelyn Strange, president of AES. “We take great pride in our work and installations and know that the privilege to work on such projects is dependent each and every time upon our entire work force delivering value to the successful completion of the project we’re on.”

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.