For most companies, getting packages to customers is vital to the business. When you’re United Parcel Service, getting the package to the customer is your business.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2000, UPS delivered more than 325 million packages, 19 million of which were delivered on Dec. 19. That’s compared with the average nonholiday season daily package volume of 13.6 million. To handle the Christmas spike, UPS starts planning immediately after the previous holiday season ends. Around Thanksgiving, the Atlanta-based company hires 90,000 temporary workers and adds more than 20 jets to its fleet of 600 planes. It relies on historical data, and it works closely with “high-impact shippers” like specialty fruit purveyor Harry & David.
“We don’t like to plan on the fly,” says Randy Blaisdell, air group peak planning manager for UPS. “We really work on communication with the high-impact shippers. We like to have it all planned out in advance, preferably as soon as they have their forecasts together.”
Blaisdell oversees a group of 18 people who plan for the holiday season year-round. His team works to integrate UPS’s air hubs and ground hubs so that no one sorting center gets overloaded. For example, if there’s a high-impact shipper in Memphis, Tenn., generating four or five truckloads of packages a day, the peak planning team will make sure the package volume is distributed between centers in and around the city.
So if you’re planning on shipping an extra 20,000 packages during a seasonal peak, it’s a good idea to talk with your carrier. Then, both they and you can get shipments to your customers on time.