Procter & Gamble (Project Heartland) | Morris, Illinois

Located in Morris, Illinois, roughly 60 miles southwest of Chicago, Project Heartland is one of the largest distribution centers in the region. Alston Construction collaborated with Procter & Gamble on the new 1.3 million SF facility. Environmental Sustainability is one of the key pillars to Procter & Gamble’s business. This includes where their employees work. In P&G’s newest Climate Transition Action Plan, they have goals that cover the lifecycle emissions of their products and operations. Accordingly, Project Heartland is LEED v4 BD+C WDC registered and LEED Silver Certified. The site was a former agricultural and farmland site that was to be converted into a large industrial development. The site is also over 30% “untouched” for future agricultural use and to protect and restore habitats nearby.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) approached Alston Construction in August of 2020 with a goal to break ground for the 1.3 million square foot distribution center by October of 2020. It was vital to have a shovel in the ground by this date in order to meet the foundation pad schedule, so the team could build efficiently through the winter.

The Alston team was contracted as the design-builder and collaborated with P&G to find and hire the architect, civil engineer, structural engineer, MEP, and fire protection teams. Within 60 days, we had drawings prepared. We had the mass grading permit issued, and elevations were approved by the local authority for the size and general look of the building. Alston also assisted P&G with project due diligence, traffic studies, and sustainability metrics.

The earthwork subcontractor tracked soil moisture levels and was able to creatively “lay out” material to dry while continuing to fill with the drier material. This required a complex logistic plan and the ability to sample soils in the right location and correct depth. All of these efforts allowed the mass earthwork to be completed ahead of schedule even when starting late in the year.

The site is across the street from a regional airport; therefore, early in the project we had to verify FAA requirements and provide a suitable stormwater plan. Because the airport does not want waterfowl drawn to the area to clear flight paths, all detention basins needed to be designed to drain completely within 24 hours. Alston had to obtain permits based on boom heights for setting steel and hoisting wall panels. Within those critical first two months, Alston, along with our design partners, was able to break ground on the distribution center on time.

Since P&G is using AGV (Autonomous Fork Trucks), the layout of the racking, lighting, sprinkler lines and power was critical. P&G shared 3-D CAD files with the design team, and each subcontractor produced a 3-D drawing to help with the coordination and ensure the necessary precision in construction.

Procter & Gamble’s business culture and foundations are based on innovation and lean principles. In order to partner with our client, the Alston team, adopted a lean pull planning technology called TouchPlan. The Project Heartland team pioneered it for the company. TouchPlan is an online application for project planning based on the lean principle of pull planning. The Alston team hosted two main pull planning sessions, one for structure and one for the interior build-out, trained our subcontractors how to use the platform, and hosted weekly pull planning updates. This ultimately led to the project opening on time even if there were owner-driven or trade-driven schedule delays.