Ground Fleet Efficiencies Loading...

UPS has owned and operated one of the world’s most extensive private ground delivery networks for decades, so we have abundant experience in identifying and executing on ways to increase our ground network efficiency, particularly regarding fuel optimization and usage. The strategies and methods behind this success include customized delivery vehicles that are optimized for how we use them; proprietary, data-driven package routing technology that increasingly enables real-time adjustments; and telematics (See "Practical Innovation"). All these strategies leverage our investments and expertise in information technology and our deep commitment to driver training. We believe our long-term, continuous focus on increasing ground network efficiency is a significant competitive economic and environmental advantage. 

Ground Fleet Emission Reduction Strategies 

In our ground fleet operations, our two primary strategies for reducing greenhouse gases are to reduce the miles we travel to accomplish any given level of shipping, and to reduce the amount of fuel required for that travel. We execute both strategies by integrating technology into our operational practices, such as with telematics (See "Practical Innovation") and our proprietary routing system. 

Avoiding Miles Driven 
In 2012, we avoided driving more than 12.1 million miles, compared to 2011, in our U.S. Domestic Package segment. This in turn avoided the use of 1.3 million gallons of fuel and 13,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Over the twelve years, from 2001 through 2012, we have avoided driving 364 million miles. By combining telematics, package routing technology, driving techniques, service offerings, and other strategies, we are able to consistently minimize miles driven in the following ways: 

  • Allocating pick-ups and deliveries to the most efficient number of vehicles each day at each facility, thus keeping vehicles off the road wherever possible. 
  • Routing vehicles so that they reach all required destinations in the least amount of time and miles driven. 
  • Identifying loading and unloading locations that enable multiple deliveries. 
  • Dynamically re-routing drivers based on events such as changing customer pick up needs or a requested change in delivery location, to avoid wasted miles. 
  • Eliminating unnecessary customer visits, by encouraging customers to sign up for innovative services such as UPS My ChoiceTM and UPS Smart Pickup®. 

One of the metrics we use to put our miles avoided in context is the number of stops our delivery drivers made during the year per mile they traveled. This tells us how much productive work we did for customers (stopping for pickups and deliveries) with the miles we drove (which generate greenhouse gas emissions). 

In 2012, our total stops increased 2.3 percent due to higher shipping volume by our customers. Yet the miles we drove increased only 1.3 percent due to all the techniques listed above. As a result, we improved stops per mile to 1.456 in 2012, from 1.437 in 2011. This translates into avoiding more than 12.1 million miles of driving in 2012 compared to a year earlier. It also means that we succeeded in reducing our carbon intensity, by holding the growth rate of emissions below the growth rate of shipping volume. 

Reducing Carbon Intensity per Mile 
Growing customer demand for our services puts upward pressure on the number of miles we drive each year. So we are just as relentless in minimizing the amount of fuel we use per mile, because that can reduce the carbon intensity of our ground fleet even as our miles traveled go up. As with avoiding miles driven, we combine numerous techniques and technologies to reduce fuel use per mile, and we put them all into practice rigorously, on a daily basis. Highlights include the following:
  • Selecting route options that minimize idling time spent waiting for lights and turns, thus reducing fuel use and emissions even if miles driven remain the same. 
  • Selecting vehicles for routes on which they will deliver the best fuel efficiency. 
  • Conducting proactive, just-in time maintenance on our vehicles to keep their miles-per-gallon performance as high as possible. 
  • Shifting travel to low-emission vehicles that use alternative fuels and advanced technology. 

Reducing idling time may seem like an insignificant factor. But the number of large cities in the world is growing, and the largest cities are becoming even more congested. There are more obstacles, blockages, and other factors that can cause drivers to sit still with their engines running—burning fuel without getting anywhere. We fight back with telematics. In 2012, we were able to avoid 206 million minutes of idling time, equivalent to 1.5 million gallons of fuel and 14,000 metric tonnes of CO2. 

We had 2,688 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in operation as of the end of 2012. We logged 49 million miles in these vehicles during 2012, a 43 percent increase compared to 2011. We logged more than 295 million miles in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles since 2000. 

We provide more information on our fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles beginning in "Ground Fleet Efficiencies".

Bypassing Hubs for Even Better Efficiency 

Like passenger airlines, UPS employs a hub-and-spoke strategy to gather packages from multiple destinations together before sending them over longer distances. This ensures that the trucks, trains and planes that go back and forth between hubs are fully loaded and therefore most efficient with their fuel and emissions. 

Like passenger airlines, we also have “non-stop” services between certain destinations that are in high demand with customers, so we can run full loads directly between them. When packages skip a hub or two on their way to such a destination, we call it “bypass.” While bypass is a common practice in our sector, UPS employs it to an unusual extent. In 2012, for example, 23 percent of all packages in our U.S. Domestic Package Segment bypassed with a single “handle.” Including multiple handles, the bypass percentage goes up to 31 percent. 

We achieve these high percentages for two reasons. One is that we have enough daily shipping volume to bypass and still keep our transportation utilization at high efficiency. The other is our relentless focus on minimizing the resources required to meet customer commitments. When bypass is more efficient, we take advantage of it. Using less fuel and driving fewer miles makes UPS more sustainable. Generating fewer emissions on behalf of our customers makes the environment more sustainable. 
Reduced Carbon Intensity in Ground Transport 

One of the ways we track carbon intensity for ground transportation in the U.S. Domestic Package segment, our largest segment by volume, is ground packages per gallon of fuel. Fuel consumption includes our delivery vehicles, “feeder” vehicles that travel between distribution hubs, and third-party transportation used for transportation by rail and for package delivery (including the U.S. Postal Service, which handles a small percentage of our package volume). In 2012, we increased the number of ground packages per gallon of fuel for the fourth straight year, to 8.85. While package volume rose 2.7 percent for the segment in 2012, fuel consumption rose only 0.3 percent. 

This means we held the growth rate for our fuel consumption well below the growth rate for our customer’s shipping volume activity, and therefore helped make economic growth more sustainable for UPS and its customers. Our ability to achieve this comes directly from the ground fleet efficiency strategies described earlier in this chapter, which are part of our global greenhouse gas reduction strategy. More metrics for ground transportation efficiency are included among our KPIs (see "Key Performance Indicators"). 

Reduced Carbon Intensity in Freight 

Data points represent results at end of calendar year.
We continue to improve the efficiency of our UPS Freight business, including a 1.5 percent improvement in pounds of freight hauled per gallon of fuel (see chart above). We are achieving this in a number of ways. One of the most important is implementing telematics. We have also improved dispatching of drivers, routing, consolidation of shipments, and loading efficiency in ways that keep miles driven to a minimum. 

At the end of 2012, approximately 71 percent of the UPS Freight fleet had telematics deployed. This helped drop the average idle time per driver per day to 48 minutes in 2012, down from 122 minutes in 2011. This equates to 250,000 gallons in fuel savings and an emissions reduction of 2,600 metric tonnes. 

Particulate Emission Reduction Goals 

Emissions of particulate matter (PM) according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. PM is designated according to size. PM2.5 emissions, also called “fine particulate,” are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of health concerns. 

To address this issue, our new goal is to reduce our PM2.5 emissions by 75 percent (kg/vehicle) between 2012 and 2020. This requires reducing our PM2.5 emissions from 1.6 million kilograms in 2012 to 351,000 kilograms per year in 2020, for a cumulative reduction of 5,600 metric tonnes over the eight-year period. 

We also have set a goal for a 60 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which are emitted from motor vehicles, by 2020. The figure for the baseline year of 2012 was 44.6 million kilograms; the target for 2020 is 14.1 million kilograms. The difference between the two years equals a cumulative reduction of 149,000 metric tonnes over the eight-year period. 

We plan to achieve the new emission reduction goals by acquiring more modern, lower-emission conventional vehicles; increased adoption of alternative fuel vehicles with lower emission profiles than conventional vehicles; and rigorous vehicle maintenance. 

Reducing NOx and PM2.5 will demonstrate our continuing commitment to reducing the air quality impact of our U.S. fleet, including package delivery vehicles, tractors, and UPS freight tractors.
Data points represent results at end of calendar year.
Data points represent results at end of calendar year.
* The reason for increase in emission in 2012 was due to the addition of the UPS Freight Fleet.