The Chicago Area Consolidation Hub (CACH) is a package sorting hub for United Parcel Service. Located approximately convert|15|mi|km southwest of Chicago ( [,-87.880325&spn=0.008730,0.016002&t=k&hl=en see map] ), the facility is so large it is in several municipalities, primarily Willow Springs, Illinois but also Hodgkins. It serves as a central sorting facility for packages traversing the country. Construction of the CACH facility began in November 1991 at the site previously occupied by the GM Truck and Bus manufacturing plant. The facility has an area of 2,130,000 ft² (198,000 m²), and has a perimeter of convert|3.1|mi|km. It employs over 8,000 people across 4 shifts. Packages are only handled during loading and unloading - all sorting takes place through a complex system of conveyor belts and push paddles, utilizing high-speed cameras to read the destination from a smart label to sort a package to its outgoing trailer. While the facility does not service package cars the facility sorts approximately 1.6 million packages per day. During the months of November and December volume can exceed 2 million. UPS's web tracking system used to list the CACH as "CACH, IL." Since there is no city named Cach, this confused customers. [Dawson, Keith. [ "TBTF Log: Trouble right here in Cach, Illinois"] , "Tasty Bits from the Technology Front", 2000-02-05. Retrieved on 2008-07-15.] UPS now lists the hub as "HODGKINS, IL."



The primary is the unload section of CACH. There are 161 bays on the primary, separated into section of three, called p-modules. Here, packages and bags of small packages are taken out of trailers and put on movable electronic conveyor belts. Individual small packages are put in tote boxes and sent to the small sort section of the building. The packages are then read in a tunnel by 16 scanners and a camera which signals a series of diverters to distribute the packages to various other belts. When a tote box is scanned, the tote is diverted to the small sort on the mezzanine, or second level of the building. Items that aren't diverted go onto recirculation belts or the DA, which relabels packages. Bulk and irregular packages are unloaded from the primary and put on one of two separate belts to be sorted.

Small Sort

The small sort is a "hub within a hub" at CACH, by unloading incoming bags and distributing them into other bags. Smalls bags are debagged at the east/west data and a series of loop belts on the mezzanine. All smalls are sent to a series of "bullfrogs." The smallsort contains 13 bullfrogs, including primary and secondary levels of bullfrogs. Smalls packages are organized and sent to inductors to place smalls packages on a conveyor of "lillypads." The smalls are read by a tunnel and diverted into their appropriate bags. Once bags are filled, they are placed on a belt to be sent to the outbounds to be loaded, and the full bag is replaced by an empty bag.


There are 10 outbounds at CACH. These fingers are lined by trailers on both sides. The outbounds contain four docks of 21 bays each. Packages coming out of the primary are sorted into secondaries, which divide sort packages into the front or back of the outbounds and then to the two docks on either side. From there, packages are read, scanned, and diverted down a chute and into trailers to be sent out. Bulk comes in through its own belt. Once a trailer is loaded, it is transported to another hub or package delivery center. Trailers are usually pulled by trucks, starting at the UPS exit on I-294, the Chicago bypass. Other trailers are loaded onto trains at a BNSF Railway classification yard adjacent to CACH.

Maps and imagery

* ['49.59%22+N+87%C2%B0+52'50.36%22+W&ll=41.746982,-87.877150&spn=0.017338,0.052470&t=h&hl=en Google Maps: satellite image]

External links

* [ Trains Magazine: Inside Willow Springs]

Notes and references

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