In a world in which big data analytics constantly surprises us with what at first appears to be counter intuitive findings, there are still times that the data validates our gut feelings.

UPS safety trainers have know since the 1980’s that:

“…Left turns mean idling, which increases the time a route takes. Left turns mean going against traffic, which increases exposure to oncoming cars. Right turns are faster. Right turns save fuel. SOURCE

but no left turns was an unofficial policy.

The massive worldwide courier company UPS introduced its first serious delivery automation system named, Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD), in 1991.  It was just a simple hand held device that let drivers inform head office that a delivery was completed as they were completed.  For those of you who are too young to remember, previously courier drivers would complete the routes and then hand in paper work at the end of their shift, which was then manually entered into the UPS tracking system.

DIAD’s gave UPS the start they needed for real time tracking of where drivers are, how long it was taking between stops and that meant they now have an insane amount of real world data to analyze.  By 2008 UPS had introduced their “On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation” (aka ORION) automated driver/vehicle monitoring system that was designed to help improve efficiency.

UPS ORION hand held - turn right

ORION’s backend servers then started optimizing routines and in 2016 had ‘corrected’ more than 50,000 routes in just North America.

That optimization, including the no left turn rule now saves UPS hundreds of millions of dollars every year:

“…55,000 ORION-optimized routes will have saved 10 million gallons of fuel annually, reduced 100,000 metric tons in CO2 emissions and saved an estimated $300 million to $400 million in cost avoidance (in 2016). SOURCE

In 2011 the third version of ORION optimizes 66,000 routes and has expanded from Canada and United States, to include part of Europe.  UPS’ amazing delivery management system now includes weather and traffic information to further optimize routes in real time.

UPS sums it up this way:

“…ORION is a proprietary technology that uses advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Since ORION’s initial deployment, it has saved UPS about 100 million miles and 10 million gallons of fuel per year. The latest enhancements will significantly improve upon those results. SOURCE




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