By opening its second-largest ground transportation facility in the United States, UPS is reacting to the need for speed in retail package delivery and positioning itself to handle volume surges during peak shipping times, particularly for e-commerce.
The shipping and logistics company has invested in advanced technologies to enable its new 1.2 million-square-foot sortation and distribution center in Atlanta to sort 100,000 pieces per hour. The Atlanta sortation and delivery center, the fourth-largest package operation in the company’s worldwide network, is part of an expanded network of regional hubs meant to improve efficiency, service levels and reliability.
“The new regional hubs incorporate advanced package processing technologies with proprietary network planning software that efficiently integrates UPS air and ground operations across the U.S. and around the globe,” said George Willis, president of U.S. Operations for UPS. “These super hubs create more options for how packages are transported along the way to their final destinations. If a surge in package volume could overload on one sorting facility, we can redirect volume to other transportation modes and sortation facilities to avoid delays.”
The Atlanta hub features a sophisticated series of conveyors, chutes, belts and ramps that feed into waiting trailers for transfer to another UPS location or into package delivery vehicles bound for area businesses and residents. The company said its new high-speed processing facilities reduce transit time and enhance flexibility within its hub-and-spoke network.
“UPS is installing high-tech systems that make our network more flexible, more resilient and more anticipatory,” Willis said. “Atlanta is home to the largest of a new class of sortation centers, or super hubs, which enable us to optimize how we move shipments through a precisely managed network of more than 1,000 small package operating facilities in the United States.”
Other highly automated UPS primary hubs include the Worldport air cargo facility in Louisville, Ky., and the Chicago Area Consolidation Hub ground facility for truck and railway cargo. Similar facilities are opening in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Indianapolis.
The company is adding more than 350,000 pieces per hour of additional sortation capacity in the United States before the 2018 holiday season.
The continued growth of e-commerce pushed parcel shipment volume up 7 percent in 2017, to nearly $100 billion, with expectations that it will rise at similar levels for the next few years, according to a recent “Annual State of Logistics Report” from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
UPS said it created more than 3,000 new jobs for Atlanta residents at the new site. The company used its Hiring Our Heroes veteran employment program, and partnered with The Center for Working Families and the United Way to recruit and hire employees. UPS employs more than 14,000 people across Georgia in package delivery operations, ground freight, aircraft operations, data center management and contract logistics, the company said. Product and technology development, global transportation network planning and other corporate functions are based in metro Atlanta, which has been home to UPS’s global headquarters for more than 25 years.