CHICAGO, June 19, 2002 - United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) today dedicated and staged a grand opening celebrating its hugely expanded $63 million cargo building on the southwest corner of O`Hare International Airport.
The new facility - the largest in North America for processing cargo and mail - can handle a mind-boggling 100,000 pounds of freight and 7,400 pieces of mail an hour via an automated systems for sorting and moving freight and mail. Thanks to the expansion, total square footage of the building increased from 575,270 square feet to 701,741 square feet.
“The opening of this greatly expanded facility will contribute to the economic well-being of Chicago and the Midwest,” said Roger Gibson, vice president-cargo for United.
“We now have the capacity to move truly enormous volumes of freight and mail smoothly and efficiently in and out of Chicago,” Gibson said. “And we have built a facility that is an attractive workplace for our own 700 air freight employees and ramp servicemen as well as employees of freight forwarders and the U.S. Postal Service who also will use it.”
The mail handling system is a fully automated, high-speed system that revolves around an oval path with tilt-trays that deposit packages onto conveyors for further movement to specific flights. It is comprised of 237 sort slides, 12 induction stations and 1,000 linear feet of primary conveyors and 3,800 square feet of primary slides.
The shipper-loaded aircraft container (SLAC) handling system includes a variety of equipment to facilitate smooth transit of containers over powered roller decks, powered right angle decks, powered turntables and powered scissor lifts among others.
There are also cooler/freezer buildings within the complex to keep food and produce stored at the proper temperatures.
The design-build contractor for the project was the McClier Corp. of Chicago. City of Chicago residents handled about 30 percent of the construction work. Minority contractors shared in the project with 30.4 percent of business. Female-owned contractors shared an additional 7 percent of this project.
The construction project took two years to complete.
Commonly shipped items include electronic parts, machine parts, pharmaceuticals and computer equipment. Mailed items in addition to letters include packages up to 70 pounds. United carries 40 percent of mail that travels via commercial air in the greater Chicago area.