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UPS begins operational rollout of ORION advanced route optimization software

ORION infographic
ORION infographic. Click to enlarge.

UPS has launched its ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) advanced route optimization software. The rollout of ORION is intended to optimize 10,000 delivery routes by the end of the year, reduce miles driven and reinforce UPS’ sustainability efforts. US deployment to nearly all 55,000 routes is planned to be completed in 2017 and global deployments are planned for the future.

ORION contains more than 250 million address data points. The software combines customers’ 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.

Most routes implemented with ORION have shown a mileage reduction. By the end of this year, the company expects to save more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14,000 metric tonnes. 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 is one of the best examples of pushing analytics out to front-line processes—delivery routing in particular. This initiative, ORION, is arguably the world’s largest operations research project. 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.

—Tom Davenport, International Analytics Institute co-founder and Babson College professor

ORION is the result of a long-term operational technology commitment, more than a decade in the making. The ORION algorithm was initially developed in a lab and tested at various UPS sites from 2003 to 2009. The company prototyped ORION at 8 sites between 2010 and 2011 and deployed to 6 beta sites in 2012.

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.

Today, ORION can solve an individual route in seconds and is constantly running in the background evaluating routes before drivers even leave the facility. This level of route evaluation conducted through the ORION program requires extensive hardware and architectural provisions.

Running on a bank of servers in Mahwah, NJ, ORION is constantly evaluating the best way for a route to run based on real-time information. 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. In addition to architectural enhancements, the drivers’ Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) is enhanced to serve as the tool for communicating optimized routes to drivers while on the road.

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.

ORION has a team of 500 dedicated resources to move the US deployment forward as UPS nears its busy holiday season.

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