Leadership MattersSustainability



The Rolling Laboratory

One of the keys to decarbonization synergy, is integrating human and technological factors. A powerful example of this integration is our advanced use of telematics. We have created a proprietary system of telematics that combines a wealth of information about the behavioral and mechanical variables that affect fuel efficiency in the delivery process.

This enables us to use our delivery vehicles as "rolling laboratories" in which we collect data, test ideas, and hone our performance.

Simply put, telematics refers to a set of technologies innovated by UPS to monitor performance of our package cars. These delivery vehicles are equipped with sensors to provide information on how the vehicle performs mechanically and to report on:

  • Speed
  • Direction
  • Braking
  • Performance of specific parts and components of the engine and drive train
Maintenance teams then use this information to perform maintenance on each vehicle only when required, as opposed to on a set schedule. This saves time and money and reduces waste (parts, oil, etc). In addition information is gathered to optimize efficiency of delivery routes and driver behavior such as monitoring seat belt use. Drivers also receive detailed reports enabling them to compare their performance with benchmarks.

Maximizing What We Learn

In addition to vehicle performance, telematics allows us to analyze information from the vehicle in combination with GPS data, customer delivery data, and driver behavior data. The resulting insights we gather enable us to make small adjustments with big payoffs, because we can put them to use with more than 100,000 drivers around the world. In the U.S. alone, increasing our stops per mile by just 0.01 percent in 2010 was the equivalent of not driving 9.13 million miles.

The more we know about our vehicles and routes, the more we can optimize them both. For example, we can match a route with a vehicle that gets better mileage at the speeds the route requires. We can also design routes to reduce the number of stops and starts required to deliver packages on time.

Telematics has other benefits as well. One is enabling us to isolate different sets of circumstances in which the same action is likely to lead to different results. Backing up to a commercial loading dock, for example, can add to safety and efficiency. In contrast, backing up in a residential location (full of other vehicles, fixed objects, people and pets) can detract from safety and efficiency.

To maximize the benefit of telematics, we bring our drivers into the process. We give them and their managers' detailed reports on how their behaviors stack up against the results we strive for, such as accelerating and braking smoothly to conserve fuel. Having concrete data empowers them to optimize their behavior behind the wheel and make their "rolling laboratory" even more efficient.

Some Examples of Our Success with Telematics

  • In 2010, package operations drivers in telematics-equipped vehicles eliminated more than 15.4 million minutes of idling time. This translates into fuel savings of more than 103,000 gallons (and avoidance of 1,045 metric tonnes of CO2).
  • By the end of 2010, the number of vehicles with fully functioning telematics increased to 24,374 in 144 locations in North America.
  • Drivers in telematics-equipped vehicles achieved twice as much improvement as other drivers in stops per mile (a metric that measures our ability to deliver more packages with fewer engine restarts that consume fuel). Telematics saved 1.7 million miles of driving in 2010, equating to more than 183,000 gallons of fuel or 1,857 metric tonnes of CO2. Applying this same rate of improvement across the domestic package car fleet would yield savings for the year of 9,256,000 miles or 974,000 gallons of fuel (9,890 metric tonnes of CO2).
Our deployment of telematics will continue in 2011. By the end of the year, we expect to have 46,612 vehicles with fully functional telematics in 410 locations including San Juan, Puerto Rico and two sites in Canada. We expect to complete the United States telematics deployment in 2012, with a total of 66,415 vehicles in 1,055 locations. Telematics will also be expanded in our Supply Chain & Freight segment in 2011, with planned deployment of 1,593 freight vehicles in 40 locations.

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