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Western Railroad Discussion > UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question


Date: 02/10/19 10:28
UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: StStephen

My firm has been involved in warehouse automation for many years.  The latest generation of equipment, including sorting, picking, packaging, and integration of data throughout facilities and partners throughout the supply chain, is minimizing human touches to few, sometimes down to none, and both capacity and velocity through facilities keeps accelerating. 
 
Specific to LTL truckers and package express carriers, such as UPS, FedEx, Old Dominion, XPO, YRC, Saia and many others, does this allow for staged sort times that would positively impact intermodal use? For example, UP historically could move a (freight) train between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City in as little as 18 hours (corrected from 16), but could not do so consistently enough to get the majority of priority sort traffic. 24-plus hours is a lot more do-able if that schedule is limited to a couple in each direction (and WB can be slower to account for time zones). 
 
For the sake of discussion, assume UP could do this at 99% reliability in 25 hours (yes, that is a big assumption….). With a time zone difference, this means depart LA East Yard at 11:00 pm; arrive SLC at 1:00 am.  Would it work so that trailers/containers would be arriving between 9:00 pm and cut-off around 10:00 pm in LA, and then available in SLC at 2:00 am with all departures to sort facilities in the Ogden/SLC/Provo area out the gate no later than 3:00 am?  Does that work for UPS and FedEx? And the LTL operators (including UPS and FedEx LTL?). Do these more-automated facilities create a little more room in sort times for shorter door-sort-door operations that give intermodal a cushion it does not now have?  Or….is that simply not how the ops go?  (I know the equipment well, but not the ops…)   
 
Using this "Western" example, what is the likelihood this would take all but “next-day” traffic off of I-15? Again, the assumption is that UP can deliver extremely high reliability, which in the new world of PSR may be a lost cause.  Thanks for any insights.
 
Bruce
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/19 12:05 by StStephen.



Date: 02/10/19 11:19
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: coach

Working for an LTL carrier, I can tell you that most of our trailers start getting "broken" (meaning "broken open" for sorting) around 2-3 am for that day's runs.  And the more the shipper can concentrate nearby, adjacent ZIP CODES within a given trailer, the better.  So, this seems to work, at least for our schedules.



Date: 02/10/19 11:20
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: Lackawanna484

Amazon's network of sort and fulfillment centers seems more aligned with continuous inflow and outflow during the day, versus a once or twice daily outflow.

In a delivery to consumer model, delivery within the set time is critical.

Posted from Android



Date: 02/10/19 11:48
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: cchan006

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Amazon's network of sort and fulfillment centers
> seems more aligned with continuous inflow and
> outflow during the day, versus a once or twice
> daily outflow.
>
> In a delivery to consumer model, delivery within
> the set time is critical.

Amazon also has the luxury of "predictive warehouse inventory" based on software tricks used to manipulate what buyers want to buy (ads based on user profile, for example). Unless UPS, FedEx, and other LTL carriers have full access to that sort of data, Amazon's model should not be used for comparison.

I've personally tested how Amazon "consolidates" my order, and without the needed data (making a paper list of what I want to buy, instead of doing it online), they fail enough times (2 out of 5 shipments) to make timely delivery.



Date: 02/10/19 12:06
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: Lackawanna484

cchan006 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lackawanna484 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Amazon's network of sort and fulfillment
> centers
> > seems more aligned with continuous inflow and
> > outflow during the day, versus a once or twice
> > daily outflow.
> >
> > In a delivery to consumer model, delivery
> within
> > the set time is critical.
>
> Amazon also has the luxury of "predictive
> warehouse inventory" based on software tricks used
> to manipulate what buyers want to buy (ads based
> on user profile, for example). Unless UPS, FedEx,
> and other LTL carriers have full access to that
> sort of data, Amazon's model should not be used
> for comparison.
>
> I've personally tested how Amazon "consolidates"
> my order, and without the needed data (making a
> paper list of what I want to buy, instead of doing
> it online), they fail enough times (2 out of 5
> shipments) to make timely delivery.


That's interesting, and very inconsistent with my experience.  Maybe 1 out of 10 orders is late. ButI'll get 2-3 different boxes on the same day, from different origins.



Date: 02/10/19 12:18
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: cchan006

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That's interesting, and very inconsistent with my
> experience.  Maybe 1 out of 10 orders is late.
> ButI'll get 2-3 different boxes on the same day,
> from different origins.

Amazon with its predictive infrastructure usually allows 1-2 days extra for timely delivery. That's the result I often see when I order items normally, and not boycotting my personal data against them. Off topic, but Amazon will and should guard their customer's data very closely. It's no coincindence they are in the cloud business, and not just for the revenue it generates.

Customers can also "manipulate" Amazon by listing items they want to buy, but not pull the trigger right away. I've already told many friends to use that as shopping strategy, but this only works if they have discipline, and not easily-manipulated or blind.



Date: 02/10/19 12:41
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: callum_out

I can understand Amazon's working to control freight moves. I've noticed delivery times on items on buy online have
been all over the place for the last couple years. I've had shipments out of New York be 11 days one month and 5
days the next. The other thing that Amazon is facing is that UPS, Fedex and even USPS are no longer taking the
bully rates Amazon dictates. If UP is truly interested in IM, they had better hope the PSR yields the consistent results
that shippers are requiring.

Out



Date: 02/10/19 15:29
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: StStephen

coach Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Working for an LTL carrier, I can tell you that
> most of our trailers start getting "broken"
> (meaning "broken open" for sorting) around 2-3 am
> for that day's runs.  And the more the shipper
> can concentrate nearby, adjacent ZIP CODES within
> a given trailer, the better.  So, this seems to
> work, at least for our schedules.

Coach, what would be the latest time at night that trailers would be ready to leave the dock?  Would they make a 10:00 pm ramp gate cut-off?  Or would it need to be later? 

Thanks,

Bruce



Date: 02/10/19 16:01
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: coach

Depends on the route, as some drivers are "scheduled" to meet their counterpart half-way and swap trailer sets, then return to their home terminal.

Our gate times at night are 8 pm, 9 pm, 10 pm and midnight.  Longer the (same day) route, the earlier the gate time.  If it's a 2-day transit route, the gate time is later.

So, say our LA trailer has an 8 pm dock gate time.  That would give us 2 hours to get it to UP's Oakland yard for a run to LA.  The 9 pm time is for Reno.  The later times are for Sacramento, and a Corning, CA "meet and swap" run which is allowed because that's a 2-day service run to Portland, OR.  Medford this time of year often becomes 2-day runs, as well.  We're running upwards of 12 empty trailers per night to LA due to intense competition for southbound freight, so it's a money-loser, or at best, a break even job at this point.  We have to always run sets of trailers, to keep trailer availablity balanced throughout the terminal system.  "Take 2, leave 2."  Sadly, I don't think the days of SP's "Starpacer" service are coming back, when TOFC used to ride SF-LA for next day delivery.  That's when the Coast Line was run FAST--get out and go!  Miss those days...

I believe some LTL carriers were interested in TOFC service to Reno, given weather and driver shortages.  If all trailers made a UPRR gate time of 10 pm, with trains departing by 11 pm for an "express run" of 6 hours to Reno, arrival would be 5 am, trailers ready by 6 am.   Push it back by an hour and it could work.  The key is on our end, loading the trailers properly, and consolidating adjacent ZIP CODES, and making each load of freight inside as easy to break out as possible.  But, I don't think the UP was interested, and the cost was probably more than what companies wanted to pay.  Still, in the winter, it seems like a good market goal, given all the distrubtuion warehouse growth in Reno--Interstate 80 is only getting busier, and busier and busier.........way too many trucks on that hill these days, and many at night time....

Oh, and 1 more thing:  while the company management OBSESSES abuout next day service on most routes, us drivers constantly ask them about going to 2-day service, to eliminate the insane chaos / stress / freight damage our freight dcok experiences every morning busting out freight.  Why do I say that?  Because 99% of the time when I deliver the freight, what does the customer say?  "Wow, I wasn't expecting this freight until tomorrow or the next day..."  Meaning, they were fine with slightly longer delivery times, vs. our management's crazy obession with next day service provided at no extra charge!!  We have EXPRESS SERVICE options, but few want to pay for them, so why the insane hustle for overnight service when the customer isn't even stressed about it???  In that scenario, LTL carriers could REALLY go use more rail service and save money, given the extra day.  That would allow our freight docks to be used more efficiently (i.e. middle of the day) when they are completely empty, and allow trailers to be properly loaded for the next day's delivery run, and allow the drivers to start earlier (being their trailer is ready) vs. breaking freight at the last minute in the morning while the clock ticks very loudly.  Does this all make sense?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/19 16:15 by coach.



Date: 02/10/19 18:49
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: spwolfmtn

For UPS, especially in the larger metro areas, most railroad intermodal ramps have a cutoff time for UPS to drop off their trailers like about 4am.  This is why many "Z" trains do not depart their initial terminals on the west coast until about 5am in the morning.  It takes UPS awhile to get their package trucks in, get them unloaded and sorted, and the outbound trailers/containers loaded, and this is at the large "hub" facilities.  It takes even longer for packages to make if from the outlying "centers", where they are unloaded from the brown package trucks into trailers, then sent to the regional hub for sorting into intermodal trailers and containers.  So it often takes until the early hours of the morning for many of UPS intermodal to make it to the intermodal ramps for loading.



Date: 02/10/19 19:41
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: BRAtkinson

Having worked at Fedex Ground as a delivery person (owner operator) and later a package handler at the Willington, CT regional hub as a package handler, and lastly as a CSX Intermodal clerk, I can state there are multiple answers to this multi-part question.
 
From the shipper standpoint…small shippers, the onsey-tensy-20sy type of shipper.  They fit the delivery driver schedule of having packages dropped off in the AM (raw materials, office supplies, etc) and sometime after 4PM, give or take, once the delivery vehicle is (nearly) empty of packages to be delivered, the same truck and driver will start making pickups until all pickups assigned to them is complete.  Some of these smaller shippers have a pickup every work day, and they know that the driver will be there about 4:30 to pick up whatever they have ready to go.  By the time the driver has completed his pickups, including those that show up on their scanner device or by direct call, it’s 6:00-7:00 and it’s back to the local ramp where he/she started their day.  Some routes get back to the ramp by 4:30 or so, others, maybe as late as 8PM.  It all depends on how much they had to deliver that day and how much they picked up, as well as where.  At the local ramp, package handlers unload the delivery/pickup vehicle (‘package car’ in UPS-speak), everything gets scanned, and gets loaded on one of perhaps 3-4 trailers, depending on where the package(s) are going.  The overwhelming majority of packages go to the hub, which may be 10 minutes to perhaps 4-5 hours drive-time away.  Other trailers, like UPS in portions of Connecticut and western Massachusetts send trailers directly to the CSX Intermodal ramp containing packages for Chicago, LA, SFO, etc.  In more heavily trafficked ‘lanes’ (Hartford CT to Pittsburgh PA, for example (fictitous city pair), if there’s enough packages destined to PGH, they will send a trailer directly there…ramp to ramp.  But that’s for the ‘every day’ type of volume.  As an aside, there might just be enough Amazon packages from their Meriden CT area warehouse going to Pittsburgh to warrant a direct trailer.
 
Then there’s the ‘big time’ shippers such as LL Bean, Titelist Golf Balls, and Stanley Tools that have 15-20 or more empty trailers brought to their doors for loading.  They’d load them and Fedex would pick them up throughout the day & night and bring them directly to the Willington Hub.  Working 10PM-2AM + 2:30AM-6AM shifts at the Willington hub, to me, it’s a tossup whether unloading a trailer of golf balls of various sizes, the worst being 20 dozen in a case x 100+ cases, or Stanley Tools, where ‘superman’ put all the 100 pound boxes with spools of nails at the top of the trailer.  53’ trailers of nothing but boxed, real Christmas trees were a major challenge between Thanksgiving and Christmas as they all had to go to the ‘incompatible’ (manual sort) belt. The packages from these big time shippers would ‘scatter’ to the four winds throughout the building.  We had 50 doors for unloading trailers and 150+ for loading trailers.  So during the four, 4-hour shifts (plus or minus, depending on package volume) during the day (1p-5p, 6p-10p, 11p-2a, 3a-7a).  I’m not aware of any ‘direct’ shipper to far-away hub like Chicago to avoid going through Willington, but if there’s a way to save money doing for a couple trailers/day, I have little doubt it’s being done.  But that would require LL Bean to ‘pre sort’ their packages and decide which trailer(s) to load.

Then there’s Amazon.  The elephant in the room these days.  Being Amazon, they have some ‘power’ in getting the best deals and routing for their packages.  Since their warehouses are semi-automated, their computers can ‘pick’ only those packages going to a specific destination area together and put them all in a single truck direct to Pittsburgh, for example.  Granted, most of the Pittsburgh destination items are in a warehouse near Pittsburgh, but sometimes I receive stuff from Amazon anywhere in the country.  Then, selectively ‘pick’ all packages headed to New Jersey, and so on.  Repeat that cycle every 2-3 hours, and whatever isn’t ‘picked’ at the end of a cycle, gets loaded into trucks that go directly to USPS, or UPS, or FEDEX.  Most shipper computers these days ‘know’ which carrier is the lowest cost for a package of that size, shape, and weight and will pick the lowest cost carrier.  Amazon also delivers directly to the USPS hub in Springfield MA, which results in a 1 sort only to reach the delivery post office.  UPS and FEDEX both have a deal with the USPS to deliver ‘the last mile’ to residential customers, so they may have drop-off directly at  the local post offices for delivery…again, based on volume.  It could also be a ‘multi-drop’ trailer, that stops at multiple post offices.  The post office is big on getting their incoming mail at the hubs as multi-drop.  I had a number of drivers tell me they’d have to go to door #1, unload 20% of the trailer, then pull away and wait an hour or so, go to door #5, unload half the trailer, then wait to go to door #10 to unload the rest of it.  Owner operators hated those runs as they only make money when the wheels are turning.
 
Life at the hub is far different that at a ramp.  At the hub, the goal is to get all the packages in and out as quickly as possible.  During the day shift, trailers from all over the country arrive and get unloaded.  After 5PM, give or take, the ‘early’ trailers from various close in ramps arrive with packages picked up a couple hours earlier.  Long haul trailers come in 24 hours a day…some from LA, other from Salt Lake City, etc.  After 9pm or so, the last of the ‘nearby’ ramp trailers have arrived for sorting.   About the same time, trailers from the outlying ramps like Bangor ME or Burlington VT come trickling in.  Those drivers hit the road about 7PM to make it to Willington by 10 or 11…in good weather. 
 
Basically, there’s 3 kinds of packages to be dealt with.  ‘Smalls’, packages under 5 pounds or so and less than about a cubic foot in size; ‘Regular’, packages bigger than smalls, not more than 50-60 pounds, and not more than 2.5 feet in any dimension, but not hazmats.  (OK, some not-so hazardous hazmats can be treated as ‘regular’ and ‘go up’ into the automatic sorting system, but only very specific ones).  And then there’s the ‘incompatible’ belt for everything else…heavy weight, oddball size (patio doors?  Golf bag? Big screen TVs, and, of course, hazmats.  Note that most hazmats are limited to 5 gallons or some small number of pounds per package.  Some, like nitroglycerin or gasoline, cannot be shipped via ‘regular’ UPS/FEDEX, etc.  But I did encounter a hazmat with a couple of inner packs of various gasolines, each about a teaspoon worth, that I checked with my manager before sending it to ‘smalls’ for sorting.
 
Smalls packages usually arrive in 44 gallon clear plastic bags that contain anywhere from 10 to maybe 30 packages inside.  The bags get ripped open and put on the ‘smalls’ conveyor belt at  each ramp  and go directly to the smalls sorting equipment.  Consider a conveyor belt with 300 cafeteria trays hooked together moving about 2 mph.  Packages are put on each tray, one pkg/tray, as they zip past the spots where they arrive from the unloading ramps.  Maybe 10 feet down the way, the packages get scanned.  Then, as the tray moves along, it flips up either left or right and the package slides down the little ramp where all Pittsburgh small packages go.   Had the package flipped the other way, it might be going to New York City.  There are about 150 mini-ramps in smalls, each with their own destination ramps.  Chicago may have 6 of those ramps, scattered around the 150.  New York, 7-8 ramps.  Springfield, MA, 1 ramp, and so on.  Package handlers each ‘cover’ about 10-12 of these ‘ramps’ scanning each package with a wrist mounted scanner with finger button to ensure the package really is going to that particular destination before dropping the package into another 45 gallon bag.   When the big bag is full, it gets sealed off, a tag denoting the destination code is attached and a trailer door number is written on it  and it gets placed on the incompatible belt to travel to the desired trailer door.
 
 
Regular packages get  sorted ‘up top’ by the automatic sorting system.  About 15’ off the floor is the main sorting system, 4 feet wide where all 50 unloading doors ‘dump’ their incoming packages.  I’m told that belt  is moving about 12-14 miles per hour and packages are scanned on all 6 sides 3 and 4 abreast.  I don’t know how that all works, but as the packages progress, they get separated to belts that go to each trailer loading ‘wing’.  When the package gets to the correct trailer door, an arm comes out and directs the package down a 20’ long chute to the lip of the loading dock.  The chutes can be manually extended into the trailers about 10 feet as well.  One or more package handlers (on a good day) take packages from the chute and build ‘walls’ of packages in the trailer.  Usually, bigger packages on the bottom, and smaller ones on top.  So, loading is actually like ‘creating a puzzle’ where every package has  to fit somewhere.  As on nears the roof, small packages are put between the previous ‘wall’ and the current ‘wall’ to fill in the voids.  45 gallon bags of smalls might fit up top, too.  But usually, they’re set aside and put in last or nearly last.  Wall after wall gets built until the trailer is full.  Somehow, the sorting system ‘knows’ when the trailer gets full, perhaps the manager for that group of doors radioed the control room.  Smalls and hazmats get loaded last.  (As an aside, UPS requires that hazmats must be on the floor, separated by a non-hazmat package.  FEDEX has no such rule!) That door then gets ‘closed’ in the computer, a 10’x10’ rain shield is put over the back of the load, and the door closed.  A yard jockey will pull that trailer and replace it with another empty to the same destination within a few minutes.
 
Life at the hub is based on cutoff times.  Trailers going to Burlington, VT, for example, have a cutoff time of 2AM after which time any packages going there will be routed to the ‘afternoon resort trailer(s)’ due to missing their cutoff time.  Why 2AM?  Figure it will be another 30 minutes on a good day for the trailer to get pulled from the door and spotted in the outbound trailer area for an over-the-road driver to take it to Burlington VT and arrive there about 6AM.  At 6AM, package handlers come in and unload trailers that arrived during the night and sort and place them in the appropriate delivery vehicles (package cars) for delivery.  Those drivers want to be on the road by 8AM…8:30 at the latest.  Otherwise, they know they won’t be back from their days’ work until 7PM or so. 
 
Closer-in ramps, such as Springfield, are only 45-60 minutes away in an 18-wheeler, so their last cutoff is 6:15 or so as 3-4 other trailers already left for Springfield during the night.  There are other cutoffs as well such as midnight for the hub in New Jersey or hub near Los Angeles.  They got it figured out about how long does it take to get ‘there’ from ‘here’ in a big rig, and then add some percentage for snowy roads, etc.  That way, the packages will arrive at their destination hubs in time to make those cutoffs to the destination ramp and delivery.  Of course, there’s likely some trailers that go directly to a ramp in New York City or Philadelphia, as there’s sufficient volume to warrant it, skipping a hub sort.
 
It all comes down to the computer at the hub and how it’s ‘programmed’.  On most nights, there’d be 4-5 outbound doors for Chicago, 2-3 for Dallas, another 2-3 for Fort Worth, and only a single door to Bangor ME.  It’s all based on expected package volume.  The computer ‘knows’ what packages should be arriving during a particular shift as they were scanned when picked up, sorted, and put on trailers when they were shipped from California, or Springfield MA.  So, the managers are advised that 14,000 packages  to Chicago are expected on the 4 hour shift, so 4-5 doors will be allocated to Chicago.  Those doors are all together so too-few package handlers can go from trailer to trailer loading packages.  As the night wears on, the number of active Chicago doors drops 1 at a time until there’s only one.  And that cutoff is, say, 3AM.  Door/destination assignments are generally ‘fixed’ for a month or longer.  Then, based on package volume experience, they may add a door to some destinations, and remove a door to others.  The minor reshuffling may move single-door destinations to other doors as well.  I can’t imagine the level of door-shuffling that must go on at the UPS CACH (Chicago Area Concentrating Hub) with its 400+ loading doors!  It must be a sight to behold during peak season.  12 years ago, when I was working at the Willington hub, we’d move about 500,000 packages per day through the building during peak season.  I can only surmise that number has grown significantly with the increases due to online shopping.  UPS CACH must be moving 3-4 million packages per day through there!
 
The incompatible belt runs throughout the building and moves about 2mph…walking speed.  Every incompatible package in the unloading area was placed on the floor by the trailer unloader(s).  They must be manually placed on the incompatible belt after it has been scanned by a roving ‘scan man’ and the destination door number written in magic marker on it.  As there are multiple loading ‘wings’, those incompatible packages move past one or two ‘splitters’  that move them to the correct belt headed to each loading wing.  The incompatible belt also has the bags of outbound smalls as well to be dealt with.  To me, the worst place to work in the hub was the ‘sin bin’ (their name, not mine).  If the individual trailer loaders didn’t come out and check the incompatible belt passing by 20 feet or so from the back of the trailer, the packages would end up at the ‘end of the line’…aka…sin bin.  Also, if a trailer loading door couldn’t keep up with the packages coming their way, the regular packages would be ‘recycled’ through the sorting system up to 3 times and if that trailer chute was still full, the  packages would get dumped on the incompatible belt and  end up in the sin bin.  Fortunately, there was an ‘induction’ belt for those regular packages that I could send them back into the system…but it was a good 6-7 feet from the end of the incompatible belt!  A gentle ‘toss’ was in order for most of them.  Hazmats  that didn’t have more than 4-5 removable tags showing what’s in them also ended up in the sin bin.  It was my job to manually rewrite them and put them on my big cart to take to the correct door along with whatever else ended up there.  I always relished the 2-3 times per shift I’d make my ‘deliveries’, away from the sin bin.  But at the end of the shift, it was run, run, run to beat the trailer door cutoff times!
 
So, how’s this fit the intermodal picture?   FEDEX Ground didn’t feed any trailers to the CSX West Springfield intermodal ramp, but UPS had 6-7 ramps in the area feeding us.  To UPS, we were no different than a destination ramp with a cutoff time to be met.  For Q017, our cutoff was 11:00PM for UPS, 10:30 for everyone else (or was it 10?).  We’d usually get UPS trailers from 6 ramps to make Q017.  But like any other highway traffic, sometimes they’d be running late, had a delayed departure from their origin ramp, flat tire, you name it.  Thank God for cell phones.  They’d call their dispatcher and tell them they’re delayed enroute and contact me.  Or they’d call me directly, too.  We’d keep their ‘reserved’ empty spot on the train and when they came, I’d direct them right to the waiting packer.  I think they got a thrill to have their trailers removed with a ‘hot lift’, right from their hitch and on to the train.  We had cutoffs to keep, too.  We had perhaps 60 minutes ‘wiggle’ room for late trailers.  But there were also times when we had to wait for a UPS straggler and the outbound Q017 was there earlier than usual ready to pull our tracks.  We’d give them what we had completed, but kept the blue flags up on the one track with the late UPS.  99% of the time, though, we had everything done, blue flags down and train  ‘released’ in the computer 30-60 minutes before Q017 from (Boston) and Worcester arrived to take our stuff to Chicago.   I should note that I considered the 'release times' set by CSX for each train were inconsistent and, at best, left too big a gap between release time and scheduled train departure!
 
So, would ‘tighter’ schedules work for big UPS or FEDEX shippers?   The question should be what problem would it solve?  IS there a problem?  Do the shipments consistently arrive at the destination UPS or FEDEX ramp an hour after all the package cars have left for the day?  Do they consistently arrive after 12PM, for example?  And does the customer/consignee absolutely has to have them by 10AM that day?   Maybe the consignee should keep a little extra inventory on hand to allow that extra day transit time. 
 
Now here’s the big question…would a customer/consignee such as General Motors ---  FORGET THEM!  They just permanently terminated thousands of union brothers and sisters!   (vs 800K cry baby Fed workers for a couple weeks!)  Chrysler, then, ‘jeopardize’ their production lines waiting on 100 cases of gear shift levers coming each day via UPS?
 
It all boils down to this…What does the shipper benefit from tighter schedules?  What about UPS or FEDEX?  How about UP or CSX?  How do they benefit from running more trains on already clogged routes?  Is the shipper, and ultimately the consignee, willing to pay more for expedited service than what they get right now?
 
If anything, the biggest lesson I learned from 3 years in the shipping business and 7 at CSX Intermodal, lowest cost ALWAYS wins!   The seller, UPS, FEDEX, UP, CSX, et al, each have to compete based primarily on cost.  If UPS gets too expensive, the FEDEX gets the business, ditto with the railroads, but they have the truckers to deal with as well.
 
Put another way, if, say, FEDEX spends $10mil to get and $2mil per year extra cost to keep the faster service, exactly when do THEY get to see the profits from that expenditure?
 
If the shippers are that hot-to-trot about getting fast delivery, that’s why UPS AIR and FEDEX Express are around!
 
 
 
 



Date: 02/10/19 20:36
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: StStephen

Thanks all for these enlightening responses!  Great info to perk on for a while...I had no idea on the complexity of this and the many, many decisions that have to be made.

Bruce



Date: 02/10/19 20:40
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: jst3751

spwolfmtn Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For UPS, especially in the larger metro areas,
> most railroad intermodal ramps have a cutoff time
> for UPS to drop off their trailers like about
> 4am.  This is why many "Z" trains do not depart
> their initial terminals on the west coast until
> about 5am in the morning.  It takes UPS awhile to
> get their package trucks in, get them unloaded and
> sorted, and the outbound trailers/containers
> loaded, and this is at the large "hub"
> facilities.  It takes even longer for packages to
> make if from the outlying "centers", where they
> are unloaded from the brown package trucks into
> trailers, then sent to the regional hub for
> sorting into intermodal trailers and containers. 
> So it often takes until the early hours of the
> morning for many of UPS intermodal to make it to
> the intermodal ramps for loading.

Back in the late 90's, the old LANY out of Hobart had a cutoff time of 1 AM, and that was for UPS or anyone else. We would send "dunnage" loads from our yard in Vernon, CA to Chicago using rail owned 45' trailers. Even though it was billed as a "dunnage" load (per agreement with ATSF then BNSF no freight only empty racks and flatbed intermodal units and such) if we got it ingate by 1 AM, about 75% of the time it would be put onto the LANY if there was room available, as the LANY was primarily or solely spine or convential cars.



Date: 02/11/19 13:44
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: zorz

cchan006 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lackawanna484 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Amazon's network of sort and fulfillment
> centers
> > seems more aligned with continuous inflow and
> > outflow during the day, versus a once or twice
> > daily outflow.
> >
> > In a delivery to consumer model, delivery
> within
> > the set time is critical.
>
> Amazon also has the luxury of "predictive
> warehouse inventory" based on software tricks used
> to manipulate what buyers want to buy (ads based
> on user profile, for example). Unless UPS, FedEx,
> and other LTL carriers have full access to that
> sort of data, Amazon's model should not be used
> for comparison.
>
> I've personally tested how Amazon "consolidates"
> my order, and without the needed data (making a
> paper list of what I want to buy, instead of doing
> it online), they fail enough times (2 out of 5
> shipments) to make timely delivery.

Interesting - a 40% fail rate is virtually unheard of for them. It's usually in the low single digits. Where are you located?



Date: 02/12/19 07:14
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: cchan006

zorz Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Interesting - a 40% fail rate is virtually unheard
> of for them. It's usually in the low single
> digits. Where are you located?

See my next post in this thread. If you didn't read between the lines, I made an educated guess on how they use personal data to expedite shipping, and I intentionally changed my shopping habits for a series of orders to test my guess. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.which Amazon covers very well, but that shouldn't matter in this specific discussion.

Because Amazon couldn't predict what I was buying, they had to ship the items from warehouses several states away. They also tried to save the cost of shipping by trying to combine all my orders into one box. They failed in other ways, but it was my fault for not behaving like other sheepish shoppers. :-)

So while Amazon as a customer of UPS/FedEx might be relevant in this thread, how they might operate logistics compared to UPS/FedEx is off topic, and that was the point of my first post.

When I ordered normally from Amazon, I'd notice that my items would often arrive a day earlier than "promised" and this is when I got curious.



Date: 02/12/19 10:29
Re: UPS, FedEx and LTL Automation Question
Author: Lackawanna484

Amazon uses predictive ordering to decide where to locate inventory. That's why I mentioned I often get multiple boxes from multiple warehouses when I order odd for me stuff.

Like my distinguished colleague, I will take stuff out of my basket and tease Amazon for a better price.

Posted from Android



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