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W. David Gardner
March 20, 2007
3 Min Read
Somewhere behind UPS's 600-aircraft fleet, the hundreds of thousands of packages UPS processes per hour, and the 550,000 customers using its software is the package-delivery company's technology. That technology was formally enhanced this week as UPS unveiled software that uses the Internet to streamline its booming global shipping services.
UPS's technology can track and link together global shipments across oceans and continents, Kurt Kuehn, UPS senior VP of worldwide sales and marketing, said Tuesday. By leveraging technology, UPS is a catalyst for promoting free trade, he said.
Customers had a great deal of input in the development of the new enhancements, noted Jordan Colletta, VP of UPS's customer technology marketing.
"We go through significant effort to identify what we need to create," Colletta said in an interview, explaining how customer feedback plays an important role in pointing the way for new services. "It's a constant evolution. We spend $1 billion a year on technology solutions."
A former UPS driver himself, Colletta knows just how important feedback from the field and customers can be as the company enhances its technology and develops new services. The enhancements UPS unveiled this week beef up the company's main technology offerings, which include WorldShip 9.0, Quantum View Manage, and UPS Billing Solutions.
Taken together, the offerings give users applications that range far and wide from traditional shipping functions and emphasize making international shipping easier. With WorldShip, which typically resides on a PC and requires just 128 Mbytes of RAM, users can import shipping information using XML schema. Now available in 14 languages, WorldShip simplifies international shipments, giving users the opportunity to choose from three time-of-day shipping options. Billing options, including designated payer of duties and shipping charges, are also simplified in WorldShip.
With new features in Quantum View Manage, users can search, sort, filter, e-mail, and download shipment data functions. Customer package and freight shipment status is easily displayed, and no tracking number is required. Customers can view scanned images of various documents, including the bill of lading, corrected bill of lading, and delivery receipts. The billing solutions offering includes electronic freight invoicing features and provides users with detailed financial information about their packages.
The heart of UPS technology is centered at its Worldport technology center in Louisville, Ky., where UPS maintains 122 miles of high-speed conveyors and a database capable of processing some 60 million transactions an hour. The company also maintains databases elsewhere.
"Worldport showcases our technology on the inside," said Colletta, who noted that UPS customers are familiar with its software applications.
Explaining how customers influenced UPS's decision to develop WorldShip for its corporate customers, Colletta said they expressed their pleasure with WorldShip when it was used for production shipments that typically came from warehouses.
"Our customers told us WorldShip was great," Colletta said. "But they wanted to ship from their desktops, too. It's been a great success and it's an idea of how we are 'customer-centric.'"
In another example of customer involvement in the development of new technology, Colletta pointed to the advantage of customers not having to key in data multiple times, because it's captured in the UPS technology platforms. Accuracy and throughput are improved by eliminating key-entry steps.
UPS cites a McKinsey & Co. study predicting 85% of manufactured goods will be sold across borders in 2020 versus the 20% sold in 2002. Colletta said UPS is addressing the global trade phenomenon with several new features in its technology offerings. In one example, he said, UPS is striving to smooth the movement of packages through borders.
"We can prealert customs in advance of the arrival of a shipment," he said. "That way, customs agents can make decisions before shipments show up. It gives them time to prepare." The result is that shipments are accelerated through the customs process.
UPS's new technology offerings also were spurred by the company's need to integrate UPS Freight, the former Overnite Corp., which enabled UPS to add a full suite of freight services to its portfolio when Overnite was acquired in 2005.
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