Case Study: Media and Communications Company Distribution Center

Dealing with outdated and obsolete technologies, Compass Engineering updated and renewed the control system solutions deployed in a media and communications company’s distribution center, increasing efficiency and productivity of the warehouse.


The company’s distribution center needed a comprehensive modernization and upgrade of the existing case conveyor control system. With the existing control system solutions no longer supported by the original supplier after years of use, Compass Engineering had to address many issues:

  • Many critical components were becoming obsolete and difficult/impossible to purchase
  • Unsupported software components increased the risk of extended downtime
  • Proprietary hardware and software support restricted by each original supplier
  • The original system employed a complex, outdated communication architecture
  • Poor system performance and reliability
  • Insufficient supplier support


As the systems aged, the challenges listed above contributed to reduced reliability and higher maintenance costs. Compass Engineering offered a control system upgrade consisting of the following technologies and capabilities to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase production:

  • Removal of all proprietary and obsolete components
  • Conversion of communication architecture to a single Ethernet system
  • Single control system supplier
  • Simplified, nonproprietary design to allow customer self-efficiency
  • Flexible design to allow future enhancements and expansion


An upgraded network communication utilizing a single Ethernet system provided a more well-organized and competent communication structure for the distribution center. Serving as the focal point for all input-output (I/O) devices, this arrangement facilitated the ease of communication between each implemented technology. Additionally, an upgrade from the obsolete components enabled the incorporation of Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PLCs into the control designs. These sophisticated controllers housed Compass Engineering’s electrical engineering designs and enabled all serial devices on the conveyors to be connected on the single Ethernet system. This retrofit plan allowed fast and simple changeovers between the old and new control systems.

Also integrated, the Compass Order Routing System (CORS) provides supervisory control and diagnostics for Compass’ conveyor applications. For the needs of this facility, the CORS package provided real-time data to the sortation equipment controllers (PLCs) via the Ethernet system. User-friendly interfaces and graphical displays allowed operations management to attain a simplistic, yet complete, control over their control systems.


Upon project completion, the distribution center had a completely revamped and updated solutions control system. With state-of-the-art technologies and Compass Engineering’s intuitive approach, the facility has been able to improve production and lower costs at the same time. By taking an affordable approach to this operation’s unique warehousing needs, Compass Engineering was successfully able to meet its customer’s needs in a timely and professional manner that adheres to the highest standards of control and software solutions.

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