UPS has announced the launch of its route optimization software known as ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation), which the company expects will save more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14,000 metric tons by the end of the year.
ORION has a team of 500 dedicated resources to move the U.S deployment forward as UPS nears its busy holiday season. The rollout of ORION will optimize 10,000 delivery routes by the end of the year, reduce miles driven and reinforce UPS's sustainability efforts. A reduction of just one mile each day per driver over the course of a year saves the company up to $50 million annually, UPS says.
ORION consists of more than 250 million address data points. The software combines customer's shipping requirements with customized map data the company has compiled to provide UPS drivers with optimized routing instructions that meet service-level requirements, while reducing miles driven.
“This initiative, ORION, is arguably the world's largest operations research project,” said Tom Davenport, International Analytics Institute co-founder and Babson College professor. "UPS is one of the best examples of pushing analytics out to front-line processes - delivery routing in particular. It relies heavily on online map data and optimization algorithms, and will eventually reconfigure a driver's pick-ups and drop-offs in real time."
More than a decade in the making, ORION is the result of a long-term operational technology commitment, UPS says. To gather the necessary data, UPS operations research scientists began piloting telematics technologies with the installation of advanced GPS tracking equipment and vehicle sensors in 2008. The integration of these technologies allows UPS to capture data related to vehicle routes and performance and driver safety. The driver's handheld mobile device and telematics technologies combined with custom mapping data and ORION algorithms provide more efficient routes for UPS drivers.
UPS says it prototyped ORION technology at 11 different sites between 2008 and 2011 and engaged senior UPS drivers to "beat the computer." This challenge helped to identify business rules to bolster the algorithm.
UPS driver Tim Ahn said, "I get options that I would have actually never thought of before. It's a new way of thinking to make me more efficient."
The number of route combinations a UPS driver with an average of 120 daily deliveries could make is a number far greater than the number of nanoseconds the earth has existed, the company claims. ORION is constantly evaluating routing options up to the moment a driver leaves the UPS facility. At full deployment it will be running tens of thousands route optimizations per minute.
ORION will enable future enhancements to the MyChoice service, providing close to six million consumers with the ultimate flexibility over their home deliveries by way of rerouting shipments and adjusting delivery locations and dates.
U.S. deployment to nearly all 55,000 routes is planned to be completed in 2017 and global deployments are planned for the future.
In related news, FedEx earlier this year announced that it cut its fleet’s cumulative fuel economy by more than 22 percent, exceeding its goal of a 20 percent reduction by 2020 seven years early. The UPS competitor says it has pursued multiple avenues to achieve its efficiency goals, including advanced technology, engaging experienced manufacturers and optimizing vehicle operations. FedEx says it saw the biggest impact on overall fuel efficiency from its strategy of matching the right vehicle to each route, which saves time, energy and money. The company expects to save 20 million gallons of fuel each year from this strategy.