May 17, 2020

UPS ditches gas guzzlers, opts for natural gas (LNG) trucks instead

Freddie Pierce
2 min
UPS natural gas trucks cut diesel use by 95 percent.
United Parcel Service will add 48 heavy-duty trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its UPS Ground operation on the West Coast of the U.S., a...

United Parcel Service will add 48 heavy-duty trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its UPS Ground operation on the West Coast of the U.S., according to a release. Paid partially from grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy’s budget, the plan will bring the total alternative fuel fleet at UPS to 1,914 vehicles, with over 1,000 fueled by natural gas.

“Investment in a fuel-efficient technology that helps reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our dependence on petroleum remains a key component of UPS's transport strategy,” said Mike Britt, director of vehicle engineering at UPS in a release. “For our heavy-duty vehicles, LNG has proved successful in reducing emissions, keeping our maintenance and operating costs low and significantly reducing our dependence on petroleum for these shipping lanes.”

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The 450-horsepowered trucks will cut diesel use by 95 percent and also emit 25 percent fewer greenhouse gasses. UPS will deploy the natural gas trucks between a 229-mile strip of desert between Las Vegas, Nev., and Ontario, Calif. The LNG trucks can make it roundtrip between Ontario and Vegas on a single tank of fuel. Ontario is also 37 miles from the Port of Los Angeles, which is the busiest port in the U.S. and 8th busiest port in the world.

Whether its UPS Ground going green with electric trucks in London for the 2012 Olympics, or UPS Logistics using sustainability platforms to gain a competitive edge, the entire UPS global team is dedicated to a future that includes clean technologies and green initiatives. UPS is on the cutting-edge of sustainability and we even had to ask the question, “Is UPS’s carbon neutral shipping option the answer?” in the February edition of Supply Chain Digital.

UPS is a remarkably efficient operation, which is an characterisitc that’s absolutely necessary in the uber-competitive shipping and logistics industry. With each carefully-planned move it makes, The Big Brown Machine reaffirms where its priorities are for the future: alternative fuel transportation and protecting the environment.

To learn more about the operational efficiency deployed at UPS, check out this National Geographic video breaking down every function, process and intricacy of the UPS super hub “Worldport” in Louisville, Kentucky.


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Jun 15, 2021

FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles

3 min
FedEx is expanding a trial of autonomous vehicles in its last-mile logistics process with partner Nuro, including multi-stop and appointment deliveries

FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics. 

The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener". 

FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road. 

“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”


The changing role of couriers 

Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time. 

But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse. 

“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”

Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds. 

Last mile's role in ESG

Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings. 

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