United Parcel Service Inc. yesterday unveiled its new automated package distribution hub in Maple Grove, MN.
It features new technologies for material handling and a sophisticated sorting system, UPS said. The 335,000-square-foot building can sort 20,000 packages an hour. It will house 272 delivery vehicles when at full capacity and have a retail customer counter in 2003.
The hub uses the latest technologies to speed the sorting of “smart” packages and to reduce the physical workload for employees. It also has served as a technology test bed since many of its systems will be deployed in other package centers.
Packages will move through Maple Grove's automated sorting systems in as little as eight minutes from in-bound truck to outbound truck. Packages with “smart labels” — barcoded labels containing electronic information about the size, weight and destination of a package — immediately run through a scanner where information about the package is captured by high-speed computers.
UPS's internally developed software uses that information to electronically guide the package through the facility, directing it to the proper truck for delivery. The software, designed to work in any automated UPS facility, even indicates the precise spot on the truck where the package should be placed to ensure efficient delivery.
UPS, Atlanta, said the system is flexible, allowing the hub to adjust, for example, to the increased demands of peak holiday season when package volume rises up to 40 percent.
“By strategically building our Maple Grove facility in the fastest-growing corridor of the Twin Cities, UPS is better equipped to offer local customers the highest quality of service possible,” said Cal Darden, UPS senior vice president for U.S. operations.
With nearly 4,000 employees in the Twin Cities area and up to 825 serving the new Maple Grove hub, UPS will continue to help local companies such as The Sportsman's Guide, Best Buy and Department 56 remain competitive. In preparation for the holiday season, UPS expects to hire another 650 employees in the region.