Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2006.
The UPS Chicago Area Consolidation Hub, which opened in 1995, is the largest land transport distribution center in the United States and the largest package sorting facility in the world. It acts as a large cross-docking facility, sorting about 1.3 million parcels per day, which is roughly 10% of the UPS daily ground volume. It consolidates traffic bound for the East and the West coasts. The facility is linked to a BNSF intermodal rail terminal (Willow Springs), which handles about 40% of the traffic processed by the distribution center. Trucks can deliver inbound traffic at one of the 126 inbound doors, which is then sorted and brought to one of the 1,000 outbound loading bays. 15 minutes is all that is required for the sorting to take place if the package is of a standard size, such as an envelope or a small box. About 11,000 people work at the facility. Packages bound for UPS distribution facilities located less than 400 miles away are usually trucked, while for destinations greater than 400 miles, the trailer is likely to be loaded on a train.