UPS unveils robotics innovations at work in its network

UPS gave insight into innovations it uses in its warehouses, which include mobile robots, among other automated equipment. | Source: UPS

UPS has had a long history of driving innovations that help propel its business and bring industry-leading systems to logistics. The company recently gave insights into ways it’s strengthening its network capabilities and enhancing the employee experience through automation. 

UPS has been focusing on using technology to help reduce repetitive tasks and physical stress while promoting safety for the company’s employees. These technological advancements also improve package flow and overall efficiency in the network. 

The company’s innovation strategy has long included digital automation technologies, which have only accelerated with recent advancements in AI. 

“UPS has been a technology company since its founding. Innovation is in our DNA,” Carol Tomé, chief executive officer at UPS, said. “We continuously look for ways to leverage technology to improve our employee experience and increase efficiency. This is how we build a better and bolder UPS that will continue to be customer-first, people-led and innovation-driven for years to come.”

Recently, UPS has made several improvements in its operations, specifically targeting processes that can be repetitive and physically demanding, like pick-and-place, loading and unloading, and moving irregular-sized shipments.

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These innovations include Dexterity, Fortna, and Plus One Robotics-powered pick-and-place technologies. These pick-and-place robots help employees sort small packages, which require many repetitive movements and can be inconsistent and it flexes with customer demands. 

UPS also uses Pickle Robot’s unloading technologies to ease the labor-intensive job of unloading trailers. Pickle’s robot eases the workload off of workers and delivers better package care and reliability for UPS customers. 

To simplify the process of moving small and irregular-sized shipments through UPS facilities, the company is using autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) powered by Dane Technologies, Geek+, Locus Robotics, Crown Lift Trucks, and Toyota Raymond. Irregularly shaped items, which are typically heavy, don’t usually fit on average conveyor belts. Using an AGV to move these items streamlines the process and promotes worker safety. 

 “In providing industry-leading livelihoods for our people, we are now also using technology, innovation and automation to provide for their well-being,” Bala Subramanian, executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer at UPS, said. “UPSers will always be our differentiator even as we optimize our network through technology.”

These innovations are being used in select UPS facilities across the US as the company continues to execute its strategic plan and provide industry-leading service to its customers. 

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