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UPS accelerates use of ORION routing optimization software; reducing 100M miles driven annually at full deployment

UPS expects its ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) routing system (earlier post) to reduce the distance driven by its drivers by 100 million miles annually when fully implemented in 2016. The company is accelerating its implementation to complete all planned US routes by then. The deployment will result in a 100,000-metric-ton reduction in CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking 21,000 passenger cars off the road for a year, according to the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

The company expects additional benefits including annual savings of 10 million gallons of fuel and more than $300 million when ORION completes US implementation. Additional environmental benefits and cost reduction savings will be realized when vehicles outside the US are equipped with the technology in future years, the company said. During 2015, UPS plans to complete installation of ORION routing on about 70% of the planned routes.

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 it to 6 beta sites in 2012. The system was initially deployed to 10,000 routes and 82 facilities in 2013. In 2014, 24,000 routes—nearly half of all US routes—were optimized with ORION.

UPS’ ORION routing system uses data from customers, drivers and vehicles to reduce miles driven on delivery routes. ORION calculates the most efficient driving path taking into consideration all scheduled package delivery and pick-up stops required on the route for the specific day. The proprietary ORION algorithm equates to nearly 1,000 pages of code.

At full US deployment, ORION will process tens of thousands of route optimizations per-minute based on real-time information.

We have realized a reduction of 6 to 8 miles driven per route resulting in significantly lower fuel use and related lower vehicle emissions. As a result, we’re expediting the rollout and expect ORION to be fully deployed by the end of 2016, ahead of the original schedule.

—Mitch Nichols, UPS senior vice president of transportation and engineering

ORION routing will continue to be refined and improved as it is deployed. By operating one unified fleet with ORION technology, UPS can optimize pickup and deliveries across its operation. For each 120 stop route, ORION analyzes more than 200,000 options, selecting the most efficient route while meeting customer requirements for time-sensitive pickup or deliveries.

Dynamic routing is planned for a future version to enable more efficient routing changes during the drivers’ day. Global routes outside of the US will be deployed after 2017 to further reduce miles driven, vehicle maintenance, fuel use and CO2 emissions.

The first package delivery company to introduce alternative fuel tractors into its fleet, UPS operates one of the largest private alternative fuel fleets in the US with more than 5,088 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. This includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, CNG, LNG, propane, biomethane and light-weight fuel-saving composite body vehicles. By the end of 2017, UPS anticipates logging one billion miles from its alternative fuel fleet.

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