The new ORION software from United Parcel Service (UPS) is helping the company further its goal to make its delivery operations more sustainable. The company has maintained a focus on optimizing delivery routes, which has helped save several millions of gallons of gas over the years. The new software is designed to institutionalize that process of sustainability.
ORION, which stands for “On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation,” will help UPS shave one mile off each driver’s daily route, and thereby save 1.5 million gallons of fuel this year alone. The software will optimize 10,000 delivery routes by the end of this year. The goal is to optimize 55,000 routes by 2017, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the company $50 million annually in fuel costs. When the software is fully deployed, it will run tens of thousands of route optimizations per minute.
ORION combines customer shipping requirements with customized maps that guide UPS drivers to their destinations. It makes use of 250 million address data points in the process. Nearly 500 employees at UPS are working on this software. Future versions of the software will employ real time data that considers the traffic, weather and other variables for better efficiency.
The prototype of the ORION technology was employed at 11 different UPS sites between 2008 and 2011. The company engaged senior UPS drivers to outdo the computer. This challenge helped the company identify rules to bolster the algorithm. UPS is not the only company to advance sustainable operations with the help of “big data.” GE has also come up with similar route optimization software that guides airplanes to the most optimized routes.
UPS is also improving sustainability of its operations by gradually converting its fleet of 91,000 vehicles to clean fuel vehicles. The Climate Counts rankings of last year put UPS in the second place among the world’s largest companies that are addressing climate change.