Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the official grand opening of the largest, fully-automated package handling facility in the world. Ten years ago, UPS employees, customers, board members and local, state and government officials gathered in Louisville, Kentucky for a press event to celebrate the facility’s grand opening and to be among the first to hear its new name: Worldport.
Today, Worldport handles about 130 aircraft daily and processes an average of 1.6 million packages a day, with a record 3.6 million packages processed on peak day in 2011. The facility measures 5.2 million square feet — the equivalent of more than 90 football fields — with a perimeter of 7.2 miles. It contains 155 miles of conveyors with the capacity for sorting 416,000 packages per hour.
Here’s a timeline on some of the project’s major milestones:
- March 1998: The project was dubbed “Hub 2000” and recognized as the largest construction project of its kind in the world at that time. Ergonomics and automation would make Worldport a good place for both packages and people. Processes would be better suited to employees when packages required handling, while automation would allow packages to move through the system without being handled at every step of the process.
- November 10, 2000: Employees had been recruited from all around the state of Kentucky for that first night. At 11:38 p.m., container 71905 was pulled into the unload platform, which was empty except for a small group of employees stretching before their pre-work communications meeting. Within minutes, scores of engineers and UPS management employees looked on as Next Day Air employee William Conley unloaded the first Next Day Air package in Hub 2000.
- July 27, 2001: The second phase of Hub 2000, Wing B, opened, increasing the capacity of the Next Day Air operation to 275,000 packages per hour. Now work on Phase 3 could begin – the opening of Wing A and the transition of the 2nd Day Air sort to the new hub. In the final months leading up to the opening, more and more pieces of the automated puzzle fell into place.
- December 18, 2011: The last section of a slider bed was installed. The entire system included more than 80 miles of conveyors with 16,500 drives controlled by more than 5,500 control panels. During Phase 3, Hub 2000 increased its capacity to 288,000 packages per hour when the Second Day Air Sort and the Sunday Sort moved into the new building. Next Day Air operations expanded to include Wing A and International operations moved into the new building while outbound international loads were loaded side-by-side with domestic loads. In the final phase of the Hub 2000 project, Wing H, the test wing, was shut down and then reopened and reconnected with four unload transportation belts to feed into the hub.
Worldport has received a lot of attention for its technology and has been heralded the “crown jewel of UPS’s air network.” It won its first award for the company — the inaugural American Business Award for “Most Innovative Company,” on April 30, 2003, at a presentation in New York City. UPS was selected from 18 finalists for its outstanding leadership, innovation, perseverance, creativity, teamwork and integrity.
Former UPSer Jack Blaisdell, who oversaw the design and construction of the $1.1 billion facility said, “Worldport exemplifies the amazing technological capabilities of UPS, which enables us to move our customers’ critical business information around the world as precisely as we move their goods.”
|Tags:||Airlines, hub, Louisville, Worldport|