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Industrial August 2020
The completed FedEx distribution hub project
Published On
Aug 14, 2020

McPhee Electric, Farmington, Conn., was responsible for all electrical construction on FedEx Ground’s Middletown, Conn., facility in 2018.

The shipping hub was constructed on a 300-acre site that required electrical infrastructure installation across the entire site, including the main building and support facilities, which added complexity to a large project with a demanding schedule. McPhee Electric was responsible for electrical construction, project management and civil trade management associated with electrical work, said president Marcus McPhee.

“Scope of work on the project included all electrical systems and telecommunication infrastructure, encompassing primary and secondary power distribution, lighting, fire alarms, low-voltage controls, rough-in, computer room with static uninterrupted power systems and the security system, including all performance testing and certification,” he said.

Drawing on extensive industry reach and capabilities in installing advanced renewable-energy generation systems, McPhee Electric was selected as prime contractor for installing a 1-megawatt fuel cell renewable system by Bloom Energy, which enabled FedEx to achieve its environmental goals for the facility.

McPhee Electric installed building-mounted exterior lighting and site electrical work, access power and control conduits, wiring, terminations, concrete bases and encasement, reinforcement, lighting fixtures, block heaters, lighted ballasts, grounding and devices.

“Much of the interior electrical infrastructure was exposed, so design criteria required it to be aesthetically pleasing,” McPhee said. “Conduit runs were based on extensive BIM [building information modeling] design and modeling by McPhee’s engineering staff. Use of best practice cable-pulling technology achieved significant labor savings. The equipment used also enabled two-speed pulls and cable-tension monitoring.”

McPhee Electric implemented its robust quality assurance/quality control program on the project, which included supply-chain management and inspections, pull tension reports to support extensive feeder wire installation, Megger tests on cables after pulling and prior to energization, point-to-point verification, conduit proofing and other inspections.

“Prefab components included branch circuitry for the office space, loading dock control systems and garage door controls,” McPhee said.

A 40-foot retaining wall surrounding the site complicated construction.

“Main service transformers serving the facility were installed on top of the retaining wall, which made routing of duct banks challenging,” McPhee said. “Conduit and cable were installed approximately 40 feet below top of the retaining wall, which required cable wedges to reduce cable tension, as well as strain-relief plugs to reduce the pressure on transformer lugs to ensure quality and longevity of connections.”

After work began, McPhee Electric was given a 30% increase in electrical distribution scope of work to design material handling systems and associated electrical support.

“To support this effort, we designed and modeled all conduit runs and distribution boards required to feed the system and incorporated the additional load into switchgear design and drawings,” McPhee said.

“A switchgear redesign was needed to distribute duct banks across the building to accommodate the additional power requirements while working under a tight ongoing slab pour schedule,” he said.

Extensive coordination efforts accommodated all trades in tight spaces to support key systems, such as material handling conveyors and garage door loading areas.

Use of BIM and 3D modeling increased productivity, installation accuracy and trades coordination and reduced rework and material waste. Applying appropriate technology contributed to timely completion of the project.

“McPhee utilized Revit and Navisworks software to mitigate the extensive length of conduit runs and to calculate feeder size to overcome voltage drop,” McPhee said. “Degree of conduit bends was reduced to meet NEC standards.”

McPhee designed switchgear vaults to accommodate conduit feeding in and out of the switchgear.

“In addition, we designed and modeled two additional accessible manholes underneath the building to accommodate long wire pulls that had to be reduced due to pulling tension requirements and voltage drop mitigation,” he said

Trimble 3D BMI technology was used to locate all lighting and conduit layouts for accurate and efficient installation.

McPhee Electric, an operating company of Phalcon Ltd., specializes in electrical power systems from high-voltage transmission to building distribution to low-voltage, communication and fiber optics.

About the Author

Jeff Griffin

Freelance Writer

Jeff Griffin, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at up-front@cox.net.

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