PAS in the Press, and How It Really Works

By George Kieffer, adapted from the www.denverbrown.com website.

October 18, 2006. UPS continues to get good press concerning its PAS system.

Everyone from technology journals to the main stream press have sung the praises of Package Flow Technology and the Preload Assist System.

Let’s look at a few of the stories about PAS to see how they compare to reality.

Optimize Magazine: “It helps managers ensure that drivers are not overdispatched and that last-minute load changes to a driver’s car are minimized.”

Well...UPS uses PAS to justify putting more work on each car. Drivers are consistently over-dispatched, but now it’s not your supervisor’s fault anymore. It’s “the computer.” Last minute changes are only minimized if your dispatcher keeps his fingers off the buttons. And last minute changes cause havoc to the load.

HighBeam Research: “The automated system...is designed to reduce the number of misloaded packages as well as headaches for drivers.”

Well...I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but misloads and headaches are as abundant with PAS as they were with the old system. Misloads may be worse than ever. And certainly more spectacular.

USA Today: “It lets them do what they do best, and that is to service our customers, build relationships with them.”

Well...One of the goals of PAS is increased productivity. That means more stops per hour. That means less, not more, time to spend with the customer.

Optimize Magazine: “This approach provides the customer with a consistent, reliable service provider.”

Well...With PAS, area boundaries are a thing of the past and routes fluctuate every day. There is no consistency to the stops and many customers see two or three different drivers a week. Of course, what’s a morning stop on one driver’s area may be an afternoon stop in the next route, so customers actually have less consistency with PAS.

Information Week: “This cuts down on the need for loaders to memorize different delivery routes, a skill that normally requires three months of training. With the new labels, training takes just a few hours.”

Well...The company may only be training it’s loaders for a few hours and the loads show it. What’s more surprising is when your loader calls in sick and a supervisor loads your car, the load is almost unrecognizable. I guess the supes must not be trained at all.

USA Today: “The technology also will cut millions of miles in travel for UPS drivers, reducing fuel costs.”

Well...That’s a nice thought, but the system gets bogged down by poor looping and lack of area knowledge. The routes were looped from maps and the wealth of driver knowledge was ignored. Consequently, the shortest and most of efficient way to run each area and save miles is seldom the PAS-looped way.

Material Handling Management: “The end-result of the program has been that it’s taken a lot of stress out of the job for the pre-loader and driver, and put more accuracy into the delivery process.”

Well...My God, are they talking about UPS?


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