UPS Willowbrook | Houston, Texas

The new facility in greater Houston area expands UPS network to better serve customers in one of the nation’s ten fastest growing cities. It’s location provides strategic transportation network access to air, rail, major interstate highway corridors, cross-border and commercial cargo shipping lanes. Now operating at full capacity, the new facility will significantly increase UPS’s delivery fleet serving Houston, the fourth most populated city in the United States. Home to the largest medical complex in the world, Houston area healthcare and life sciences businesses will benefit from enhanced delivery speed and accuracy from the new Willowbrook center’s advanced package scanning and sortation equipment. For parcels requiring strict temperature environments, from CRT to cryogenic, and those requiring around-the-clock monitoring, UPS has solutions such as UPS Temperature True™ and UPS Proactive Response™ services. The new UPS package delivery operation has created 575 full- and part-time jobs in Houston’s Willowbrook area.

5 fingers designed to maximize the amount of OH doors for the input area allowing the drivers to quickly unload packages into a fully automated facility. The fingers are approximately 14’-16’ wide which only allows room for the conveyers to extend the full length (approximately 300’). All structures are built with tilt wall and steel, including the fingers. Additionally, the project included a 56,000 SF mezzanine in 52’ clear high section of the building. Some of the tilt walls in this high bay section weighed 140,000 pounds. The building was powered by two substations equating to 5 megawatts and has the ability to hook up back up generators to keep the critical features of the building running during a power outage. The 6-acre parking field is designed to accommodate the 575 employees that will occupy the building during peak operation at shift change times.

Many challenges related to this site have been overcome throughout the development and construction process. Initially, this site was in the 100-year flood plane and was later removed via an approved LOMR. Several underground utilities and easements had to be relocated, after being relocated for the first phase of construction. UPS had a goal to make this facility operational by November 2018, and Alston Construction was up for the challenge. With the City of Houston permitting process taking so long everyone on the team had to be creative and figure out how to make it work. Everyone knew that we had to start footings in August of 2017 if we were to meet the critical date of getting the building dried-in by January 2019 so the conveyor installation could begin. Hurricane Harvey certainly didn’t help with the schedule.

To complete this project safely, our project team put together a Site Specific Safety Program that set guidelines above the industry standards. Each subcontractor was put through a strict prequalification process, which included: Review of their 3 previous ERM ratings; Review of their OSHA logs from the 3 previous calendar years; and, a review of their OSHA Citation history. Alston also incorporated a document into each subcontractor’s contract known as “Exhibit E- Subcontractor Safety Requirements.” Exhibit E detailed the safety requirements that either met or exceeded OSHA, Each subcontractor is required to create and submit a Site Specific Safety Plan for their scope of work, which identified all known hazards and their processes and procedures to eliminate (or minimize) the associated hazards. Prior to gaining access to the work area, each worker was given a site specific safety orientation, detailing the Emergency Action Plan and all site rules that met all requirements. The Designated Safety Professionals were also given an additional safety orientation that covered the expectations and duties of a Subcontractor Safety Representative while working on an Alston Project.

Fortunately, the entire team pulled together despite everyone’s personal losses and struggles at the time. Rather than making excuses we all focused on solutions and overcame the challenge.