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UPS, in game-changing innovation, takes the guesswork out of LTL pickups

By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor
November 01, 2011

UPS Freight has begun freight pickup notifications for shippers in what the carrier says will provide shippers with an “an unprecedented level of pickup control” for the less-than-truckload (LTL) industry.

The newest free feature for LTL shipments provides customers visibility of the pickup process by confirming when a pickup is scheduled, informing them when the UPS Freight driver is en route to the pickup location and notifying them when the pickup is made.

“We think this is a big deal,” John W. Fain, UPS Freight senior vice president, sales and marketing, told LM. “This is the first national company to do this in the industry. I can’t tell you how many times we get calls from customers asking, ‘When is the trucking coming? Has my freight been picked up yet?’”

The freight pickup notification rollout, effective immediately, is the latest advancement for UPS Freight since the Richmond, Va.-based company once known as Overnite Transportation was acquired by UPS for $1.25 billion in 2005.

“This is one of the great benefits of that acquisition—the ability to leverage technology from Day 1,” Fain explained. “This is the next example of that. We are very excited about it.”

Fain admitted “it’s a bit of a trick” technologically to notify shippers that the truck is about to arrive when the shipment actually has not been entered into the UPS Freight IT system yet.

“To give the customer notice en route to shipment proactively before you actually have the freight in your system means you have to jump through a few hoops because you don’t physically have the shipment yet,” Fain said.

Fain said the new feature has been requested by UPS Freight shippers, especially those who have freight in multiple locations and might not necessarily be on the dock at the time of pick. It would also be useful for 3PLs who manage multiple shipments from various shippers at different locations, he added.

“A lot of our freight gets routed by 3PLSs not aware of where freight is located,” Fain said. “That’s a big benefit for them. I have three plants. But it’s really designed for customers beyond 3PLs.”

This technology actually helps the LTL industry leap-frog its small parcel counterparts. There is no such system for parcel pickups but as Fain noted, “There’s a big difference between LTL and parcel. For us, picking up 10 pallets is a big deal.

UPS Freight, which operates about 6,500 trucks with about 8,000 drivers, says it is the first major LTL carrier to provide this level of visibility and control for the LTL pickup process.

With this enhancement, customers arranging their LTL freight pickup online can opt to receive near-real time notifications to up to five different email addresses, keeping all parties associated with the shipment fully informed.

“The pickup process is a key part of shipping LTL freight,” Jack Holmes, president of UPS Freight, said in a statement. “Whether you are a shipper, receiver or third party, insight into the pickup process is powerful information that allows businesses to stay informed and run more efficiently. This capability is another example of how UPS Freight is continuously investing in industry-leading technology that allows our customers to manage their logistics more effectively.”

The pickup notifications for LTL feature is free and available starting immediately to customers who log onto ups.com to schedule their LTL pickups. Beginning next January, this new capability also will be available for customers scheduling LTL freight pickups in UPS WorldShip and My LTL Freight. The feature is available for online pickups that are scheduled in the 48 contiguous states where UPS Freight provides direct service.

About the Author

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John D. Schulz
Contributing Editor

John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. He is known to own the fattest Rolodex in the business, and is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis. This wise Washington owl has performed and produced at some of the highest levels of journalism in his 40-year career, mostly as a Washington newsman.


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News · Trucking · UPS · Less-Than-Truckload · All topics

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