The Current and Future Role of Computing and Information Technology in United Parcel Service
Role of Computing and Information Technology in UPS
United Parcel Service is the American company specializing in transportation and logistics. The company’s headquarter is located in Atlanta (GA). The main activity of this business entity is the express delivery of goods and documents. However, UPS also has the division dedicated to providing the management of supply chains. It is called UPS Supply Chain Solutions. The company has its own airline, called UPS Airlines. It has a fleet of 230 planes, which is the ninth largest private fleet in the world. Furthermore, United Parcel Service serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. UPS is the largest company, specializing in the express delivery of goods and services as well as the global provider of specialized services connected with transportation and logistics (About UPS).
UPS continues to open up new opportunities for logistics, supply chain management and e-commerce by combining the flows of goods, information, and funds. Over the past 100 years, UPS has become an expert in the field of transformation, having developed from a small courier company into a leading supplier of air, sea, land and electronic services. The company always mindful of its humble origins and maintains its reputation for integrity, reliability, ownership in the hands of employees and customer service. UPS has 397.100 employees worldwide. Its daily volume of deliveries is 16.3 million parcels and documents (About UPS).
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Information Technologies at UPS
By 1993, UPS delivers more than 11.5 million parcels and documents per day and serves more than one million regular customers. The volume growth required the development of new technologies that would allow improving efficiency, maintaining competitive prices and expanding the range of provided services. Nowadays, the technology used UPS are astonishingly varied from small portable devices to specially designed vehicles and global computer communications systems. Each carrier has a special UPS portable information processing apparatus (DIAD). This unique device allows them receiving information instantly. To illustrate, carriers can analyze the data concerning the optimal route, or other important information, which allows providing qualitative services in a short time (History of UPS).
In order to keep up to date, United Parcel Service developed its own worldwide system of electronic data transfer. This network allows UPS processing data on all departures. It is called UPSnet. For proper work of this extremely complex system, the company uses more than 900,000 kilometers of transmission lines, the dedicated satellite for communications, and more than 1,300 UPS distribution centers in 46 countries. The UPSnet keeps track of 821,000 items every day. Between 1986 and 1991, UPS had invested more than $ 1.5 billion in the development of information systems and implementation of innovations. These essential steps created the possibility to increase the efficiency of the company and significantly expand the range of its services (History of UPS).
Over the next five years, UPS plans to spend additional $ 3.2 billion on innovations. In 1992, UPS launched a tracking system for ground transportation. In 1994, the site UPS.com was set up. The demand for information on the transport of parcels increased very rapidly. The further development of the functionality of the site allowed customers track goods in transit. As a result, the popularity of tracking parcels online has surpassed all expectations. Today UPS.com receives millions of requests for this service.
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The Significance of Innovations
Based on a foregoing, it is necessary to mention that over the whole period of its development, UPS always tried to maintain the high quality of services, expand their scope and implement advanced information technologies. The aspiration to be ahead created the situation when other players on the market only try to catch up with their big competitor through copying its innovations and inventions.
UPS conduct its activity on the market more than one hundred years. By the time, information technologies began their development; moreover, the company had already had a strong position on the market and had a significant amount of financial resources. The ability to invest millions of dollars in the development of advanced technologies created lead to the fact that UPS became a pioneer in the application of new ways of collecting information. In the nineties, the majority of companies, which provide the same services, collected and processed data in paper form, UPS started to apply digital technologies (History of UPS).
The aforementioned step allowed providing more qualitative services. With the use of modern inventions, UPS became able to send parcels faster than any other company. Consequently, the business entity established new standards in this sphere and increased the number of its clients. Thus, there was no necessity to safe information in the paper form. The computerization of company’s activities substantially speeds up the process of providing services. Moreover, modern servers provided the instant order processing. Thus, there was no need to have a large number of staff to manage paper documents. Consequently, digital innovations simplified the process of providing services, made it much faster, and create new abilities for customers; for example, it became possible to track parcel online. Based on the fact that UPS was among the first companies, who started to implement new informational technologies, United Parcel Service increased its profits and maintained the monopoly position in the market.
Data Modeling Databases
The rapid development of digital technologies and their implementation in delivering package industry creates the necessity to develop new ways to collect and operate a large amount of information. Data modeling is the complex process of software engineering, aimed to create a data model for system of information by means of applying special program methods. Thus, this process is used in order to analyze and define the aggregate of data requirements aimed to maintain business processes and manage great amounts of the necessary information. Moreover, the data modeling process should be carried out by professional modelers, who are obliged to work with shareholders and customers, and take into account their preferences (Hemsoth, Datanami.com).
New trends in providing delivery services and the growing competition create the state of affairs when companies, like UPS, should have the appropriate equipment to provide the processing big data and deal with a complex system of IT operations. It creates great logistic challenges for business entities in this sphere.
Nowadays, UPS faces a big data puzzle. The daily activity such a big company requires the use and analysis of a great amount of information. For example, the data concerning the acceptance numerous orders; planning routes, considering rapidly changed conditions; analysis of the system of parcels delivering processes; collection of the information concerning the location, and usage of massive fleet of ground and air vehicles, as well as the complex of other necessary facts should be systematized and used properly.
The package delivery companies create and use the world’s largest digital database. They are powered by several primary datacenters, located in the United States of America. Moreover, UPS uses the specially developed Hadoop cluster that allows streamlining and analyzing the big flow of data from tracking materials, vehicles, devices and sensors. In order to keep harmony of data processing UPS maintained the high efficiency digital system, which is protected from unauthorized interference. It requires fine-tuned approach, high quality of software and hardware component, and well-trained staff (Hemsoth, Datanami.com).
As was mentioned above, the real time tracking service initially was provided only by UPS. This popular service requires the presence of continuous connection between particular vehicle, sorting center in chosen location, operation center and servers, which provides the work of the website. When the customer enters the special number of a package, the system immediately shows information concerning it. UPS uses the top-down logical data model, which allows finding necessary information without any additional efforts. Thus, there is no necessity to process each request independently by an operator, whose task is to ensure the proper work of the system.
It is obvious that without the use of informational technologies and modern data collecting techniques it is impossible to process the extremely huge amount of data and provide immediate online services. Moreover, the computerized system with numerous servers and data banks simplify and speed up the process of providing services. Each deliveryman is equipped with modern appliances thaw allows tracking the location of all packages. Besides the aforementioned opportunities for clients, the system of analyzing data concerning a particular order in real time serves as the great benefit for company’s managers, who can streamline the provision of services and ensure the safety of all deliveries.
As for the future perspectives, it is necessary to mention that the rapid development of data collecting systems gives the possibility for UPS to provide the further growth of the business. Furthermore, the increased number of clients and orders, as well as creates new challenges and the need to invent more effective and fast methods of collecting data.
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