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UPS rolls out ORION in time for the holiday rush

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 06, 2013

Gearing up for the holiday season rush, specifically the shipping and delivery side of it, UPS recently rolled out its route optimization software it calls ORION, which is short for On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation.

UPS said that ORION is comprised of a team of 500 dedicated resources to accelerate the U.S deployment of ORION ahead of the holiday season, adding that ORION will optimize 10,000 delivery routes by the end of 2013 while reducing miles driven and reinforcing UPS’s focus on sustainability.

The company also explained that most routes running through ORION have shown a mileage reduction, and by the end of this year UPS said it expects to save more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduce 14,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Putting that into perspective, UPS explained that a reduction of one mile per day per driver over one year saves a company up to $50 million annually.

“At UPS, we constantly look for ways to improve our business and make it more efficient, all in an effort to best serve our customers,” said Jack Levis, Senior Director of Process Management at UPS. “Each business day, a UPS driver is faced with more alternatives to deliver his/her route than the number of nanoseconds the earth has existed. To ensure UPS drivers use the most optimized delivery routes in regard to distance, fuel and time, UPS developed On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION). ORION is a long-term, large-scale technology investment for UPS, and is the result of over a decade of planning, development and testing.”

Levis explained that the algorithm that is the backbone of the ORION technology was created in 2003, which UPS then worked to improve and perfect over a number of years. UPS drivers’ handheld computers include GPS tracking technology, he said, and in 2008, it began piloting telematics technologies by installing vehicle sensors and GPS tracking equipment in UPS delivery trucks. The data collected from these sensors included driver safety information, along with information on performance, location and vehicle routes, all of which was used to develop the ORION technology.

And from 2008-2011, UPS implemented the ORION technology in 11 sites to test and improve the system, with the help of its expert team of drivers providing feedback on the platform based on their years of experience, he noted.

“In 2013, we began the full-scale deployment of the ORION technology across the U.S, [and] by the end of this year, the technology will be used by nearly 10,000 drivers in 82 facilities, with full deployment wrapping up in 2017,” he said.

Regarding the primary benefits of ORION for UPS customers, Levis pointed out that ORION enhances UPS customer service with more efficient routing and allows UPS to offer innovative services and customized solutions. An example of one of these services is UPS My Choice— which gives consumers a one-day alert for when a package is coming and allows them to control the timing and location of the delivery—and has nearly 6 million members.

“This solution allows customers to have flexibility over their deliveries, including adjusting delivery locations, rerouting shipments, changing delivery dates and selecting delivery preferences,” he said. “There are a number of advantages and benefits to ORION that won’t be fully realized for years to come, but the technology allows UPS drivers to be as efficient as possible, saving time, fuel and money. The efficiencies of the ORION platform not only allow drivers to complete more pick-ups and deliveries, but also allow UPS to provide customers with the best timely service possible.”

Over the next few years, Levis said UPS will be working to fully implement ORION in the U.S., which will be completed in 2017 and while it is completing the U.S. deployment, UPS will be evaluating a global rollout.

“In terms of future enhancements, we will continue to add features to ORION such as real-time routing updates, which will be sent directly to UPS drivers’ mobile devices throughout the day,” he said. “This enhancement will provide drivers with updated, optimized routes while they are on the road, allowing them to remain as efficient as possible by taking into account traffic conditions. We will also be looking to provide drivers with a UPS navigation system. By using our customized mapping information, our navigation system will ensure drivers have the best information to most effectively get to every customer.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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