Green Operations

Telematics Sensor-Equipped Trucks Help UPS Control Costs

July 2010, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Known for its speed and efficiency, UPS recently announced changes that will improve both. By the end of 2010, the company plans to operate more than 22,000 delivery trucks at 144 locations (including two in Canada) equipped with telematics technology.

An Old Program Learns New Tricks

Since 2008, UPS piloted the technology on 1,500 delivery trucks across the country, testing the equipment in various geographies and climates. In 2009, the company installed telematics in roughly 10,000 vehicles and plans to expand the program to another 10,000 this year. That makes nearly a quarter of the company's 95,000 delivery vehicles equipped with telematics.

As part of the initiative, UPS is installing GPS tracking equipment as well as sensors in key areas, such as brakes and engine box, and on the exterior. These devices will help UPS track the location of its delivery trucks as well as identify ways in which drivers can make adjustments and improve their performance based on collected data. Two key areas the company plans to improve are idle time and route efficiency.

"Telematics isn't new to UPS. We've been using telematics for more than 20 years to improve the efficiency and safety of our tractor-trailer fleet," Donna Longino, a UPS spokesperson, said. "What is new is the proprietary information and sophisticated algorithms we developed to analyze the rich stream of data captured by more than 200 sensors on our delivery trucks."

As drivers complete their routes the UPS telematics equipment captures streams of data via a 900 MHz radio and sends it in real-time to servers for analysis. At the end of the day, drivers return to their centers, and data is uploaded and sent to the UPS data center in Alpharetta, Ga. The telematics devices capture data on more than 200 elements, including speed, RPM, oil pressure, seat belt use, number of times the truck is placed in reverse, and idling time.

Telematics help UPS determine a truck's performance and condition, as well as identify ways drivers can make small adjustments that yield major results. Together, improved data and driver coaching help reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and maintenance costs, while improving customer service and driver safety.

"UPS is always looking for ways to improve efficiency and customer service, slash energy consumption and emissions, and make our drivers safer on the road," said Mike Hance, vice president of fleet operations. "We realized this cutting-edge technology enables quick, fact-based decisions to improve these areas."

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