Procore set out to find the companies, projects and individuals that stood out for their bold achievements in construction. Among the 24 outstanding finalists selected, eight were named winners of the 2021 Groundbreaker Awards. This article is the seventh in an eight-part series spotlighting each winner.
The John W. Danforth Company has a rich history, dating back more than 130 years. Founder John Willison Danforth started the business to provide high-quality residential and commercial heating systems in and around Buffalo, New York. When World War I struck, the company served as a general contractor to the U.S. Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks, and it then aided the war effort during World War II by building aircraft manufacturing plants.
In the decades that followed, the company has continued to build on its heritage and expertise. Danforth has grown to become the fourth largest mechanical contractor in the Northeastern United States with facilities in Upstate New York and Columbus, Ohio.
Danforth is currently working on a state-of-the-art, 680,000-square-foot hospital that will serve as a regional medical center in nearby Utica, New York. The new hospital will consolidate a number of existing hospitals and health services under one roof. The project is slated for completion in 2023.
The hospital is the first project of that size the company is executing through Procore. It allowed Danforth to streamline workflows and help ensure quality and safety throughout.
“It’s leaps and bounds better than anything we’ve ever done, it’s hard not to get excited about saving time and gaining efficiencies…We’re leveraging the tool well beyond our initial expectations,” said Rich DeLotto, a Senior Project Executive at Danforth.
To say Wynn Hospital is huge is a bit of an understatement. The bottom two floors alone, consisting of operating and procedure rooms, an emergency department, the imaging area, lab, morgue, pharmacy, and kitchen comprise 150,000 square feet each. The seven-story patient tower makes up the remaining 380,000 square footage, including an ICU, a maternal unit, and behavioral health and dialysis floors.
Danforth is responsible for all of the plumbing and HVAC systems in the building, as well as all sheet metal fit-outs. The system includes 1,300 variable air volume (VAV) systems and numerous central air handling units equipped to handle the heavy supply needs of the facility’s 28 operating-procedure rooms.
“Significant Amount” of RFIs to Address
With a project the size of Wynn Hospital, challenges start piling up before construction even begins, with rapid changes and numerous RFIs to address coming in fast and furiously. Healthcare projects are notorious for ever-changing drawings.
“We had a significant number of RFIs in the first six months of the job. The ability to generate them on our site, and then float them right into their site without having to do any extra paperwork saved a lot of time, requiring way fewer touches and resulting in a much better workflow,” said DeLotto.
Leveraging Procore, Danforth was able to organize its critical path items during preconstruction. It could ensure all stakeholders were aligned, a particularly challenging feat with Covid-19 work restrictions in place. The company onboarded the entire project team, from management to field, to VDC and estimating leadership, into the Procore platform, and it paid dividends almost immediately.
“If it weren’t for the collaborative RFI process, empowering all of our users to generate their own RFIs and link them to the affected areas on the drawings, we would have been lost,” DeLotto said.
Procore Saves Danforth Time and Money
Since Wynn Hospital is Danforth’s largest project to date while utilizing Procore, the company wisely decided to start small with rolling out the platform. It identified a core five tools that would help the project without overwhelming everyone with a huge multitude of new tools.
This helped considerably with onboarding, especially when the team saw how much easier Procore would make their lives.
“Everyone on our team is happier and more engaged with Procore on board because they see the benefits and how much more efficient we can be than what we were previously doing,” DeLotto said.
“I can say, without a doubt, that without Procore on this project I would have needed a minimum of two to three additional staff to keep up with document/change management alone.”
Document control became much simpler with Procore’s Document Management Tool, used instead of Dropbox or ShareFile to share information and drawings in the field. Danforth used the Schedule Tool as a virtual calendar to organize equipment release, lead times, deliveries, and site need dates, which greatly improved their visibility.
The project’s site safety manager performed all of his observations and hazard recognitions through the Observations Tool, which “opened the eyes” of both Danforth’s client and executive leadership team about how technology can help ensure better job site safety.
On the financials side, Danforth estimates its use of the Change Events Tool allowed them to capture over $300,000 in change via RFIs that were never issued out or captured in future bulletins.
Danforth even took advantage of Procore’s ability for users to create custom tools, creating a pipe fabrication tracker, a sheet metal fabrication tracker, and an equipment release tracker. All three of which have become indispensable to the project. Initially, the company tracked these processes using Excel spreadsheets, but custom-created tools allowed for significantly less manual entry, logging, and tracking.
Danforth is a shining example of a company getting out of Procore what it put into it. By not biting off more than the company could chew, the firm ensured maximum buy-in from all project stakeholders, with little to no pushback.
Materials fabrication and shipments are being facilitated by training various fabrication shops in and around Upstate New York to use Procore to update their status, notifying which packages are ready for delivery and which truck trailers are loaded and ready to go.
“The thing that always wows me the most is the amount of ownership and connectivity we have with other stakeholders,” DeLotto said.
“There’s no question about who has what information, especially with how you can set up notifications and automatic emails. We know which stakeholders have what information without follow-up, which lets me and the other PMs focus on the things that help the company.”