Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas is almost here. How are couriers coping with the last-minute demand this year?

In 2013, international couriers UPS and FedEx hit the news when they struggled to cope with seasonal demands, leading to millions of delayed parcel deliveries and a lot of angry customers.

Much of the blame was levelled at online retailers, who had heavily encouraged last-minute shopping—including Amazon, who promised Christmas delivery for orders placed as late as 11pm on December 23rd.

Last year things got better, but there was still room for improvement. So how have UPS and FedEx been attempting to cope with demand this year?

Temporary workers

UPS had added 55,000 temporary workers in 2013; FedEx, 25,000. In 2015, UPS recruited a staggering 95,000 seasonal workers, while FedEx upped their recruitment to 55,000.

Free shipping day

Many major retailers declared December 18th 'Free Shipping Day', waiving shipping fees on all online orders. Encouraged to do this by UPS and FedEx, the aim was to get customers to do their shopping earlier on to avoid the bottleneck immediately before Christmas.

Sophisticated technology

UPS is using a smart routing technology called Orion to manage up to 70% of the company's delivery routes within the U.S. The algorithmic technology analyses over 200,000 options for each 120-stop route, then selects the most efficient one. UPS saved up to 6-8 miles per route last year using this technology.

FedEx are using six-sided “scanning tunnels”, which can track weight and dimensions, make sorting decisions, and reduce human input and error.

Large scale operation

Worldport, UPS' sorting hub in Louiseville, Kentucky, has 155 miles' worth of conveyor belts. The facility is the size of 90 American football fields, and a plane lands every 60 seconds to unload goods.

UPS has 38,000 containers that hold 400 packages apiece, which are rolled across the floor and onto planes. 416,000 packages are signed every hour. It takes a package 13 minutes to make its way through the facility.

UPS expects to deliver 630 million packages overall this year.

So how will it go? We'll find out over the next day or two. It's a huge operation for both UPS and FedEx, but they seem to be pulling out all of the stops to deal with Christmas demand.

Sending a parcel with Transglobal Express? Stay apprised of our Christmas schedule.

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