UPS to expand its routing and telematics platform


One of the world’s largest transport and logistics companies, UPS, has announced that is expanding its proprietary routing and telematics platform. The company’s ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) system was originally rolled out for its drivers in late 2013, and when ORION is fully implemented in 2016, it is expected to reduce the distance driven by UPS drivers by 100 million miles (161 million km) annually. UPS said it expects to complete installation of ORION routing for about 70% of its planned routes this year, with the complete implementation on all planned USA routes completed in 2016. UPS says the benefits from ORION in the coming years, include: a 100,000 metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to taking 21,000 passenger cars off the road for a year, based on the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator; annual savings of 10 million gallons of fuel and more than US$300m on completion of the USA implementation; and with additional environmental benefits and cost reduction savings expected when all UPS vehicles worldwide are equipped with the technology.

Jack Levis, senior director of process management at UPS explained that the algorithm that is the backbone of the ORION technology was created in 2003, and was improved and perfected over a number of years. The company’s drivers use handheld computers that include GPS tracking technology, 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. By operating one unified fleet with ORION technology, UPS can optimize pickup and deliveries across its operations, and for each driver’s 120-stop route, the platform analyzes more than 200,000 options and selects the most efficient, while meeting customer requirements for time-sensitive pickup of deliveries.

Levis explained, “When our delivery drivers are on the road, they usually travel at a speed between 20-30mph, but usually closer to 20. That means, for every mile reduced, there is a return of about 2-3 minutes, due to the time involved in traveling a single mile. And the reduction of 7-8 miles, multiplied by 2-3 minutes, equates to 15-25 minutes back per driver, which translates into additional capacity, providing us with the ability to deliver more packages. Each business day, a UPS driver is faced with more alternatives to deliver their route than the number of nanoseconds the earth has existed. To ensure our drivers use the most optimized delivery routes in regard to distance, fuel and time, we developed ORION, which is the result of over a decade of planning, development and testing. In 2013, we began the full-scale deployment of the ORION technology across the USA, 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 2016.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).