- Paul Horsfall discussing UPS’s new Sprinter package vans. (14.11.2008). Cameraperson: Danie de Beer. Editing: Darlene Creamer. (3.25 MB)
The South African oper- ations of international specialist transport and logistics services provider UPS Supply Solutions South Africa is replacing some of the vehicles in its courier fleet with 19 new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, with a possible order of seven more such vehicles for 2009.
The keys to the vehicles were handed over to UPS South Africa MD Paul Horsfall at an event at Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles, Centurion, in Pretoria, in October.
Horsfall said that the hand- over of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery vehicles, or package vans, in UPS nomenclature, was the culmination of a year-long process to locally implement the expertise that UPS had gained in 200 countries over its 101 years of operation.
He added that the vehicles were part of UPS’s global campaign to become more efficient in many areas of its business.
UPS’s campaign aims, firstly, to reduce UPS’s carbon footprint through technological innovations that improve the carbon emissions of all its transport vehicles and innovations in the way it performs its business activities to reduce the amount of journeys that emissions producing vehicles will have to make, thus lessening their negative effect on the environment.
“UPS is one of the strongest supporters of, and investors in, initiatives which contribute towards reducing its carbon footprint. In the US, the delivery fleet uses a combination of hybrids, electric and water-fuelled vehicles,” said Horsfall.
He added that UPS monitored the amount of fuel that was sometimes spilled when filling the fuel tanks of its 95 000-strong fleet. The organisations’ aim is to save 4 522 ℓ of fuel at depots worldwide to achieve zero spillage.
To further the fuel economy of its fleet, UPS trains its drivers in what it calls the five spatial seeing habits, a training programme that gives UPS drivers the skills needed to travel safely and smoothly through traffic, using as little fuel as possible.
The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, which will all be deployed in UPS’s Johannesburg operations, run on diesel and Horsfall said that next year’s replacement programme might include some hybrid vehicles.
The second area in which UPS is developing its efficiency is ser- vice delivery.
UPS has mapped out major cities in South Africa to improve its vehicle dispatch processes. It has collaborated with South African map producer and distributor Map Studios, which uses satel- lite infrastructure to update information on South Africa’s busy delivery points.
This information, combined with the general packet radio services (GPRS) delivery infor- mation acquisition devices (DIADs) that UPS recently put into service in its fleet, has influenced the organisation’s delivery capability and enabled it to increase its stock density, enabling UPS to give its customers a higher level of service than it previously offered.
Horsfall said that UPS was meeting its customers’ needs by introducing new vehicles and implementing its DIAD GPRS wireless technology. UPS’s business activities drove its technology development.
He claimed that UPS conducts a nonstop, orchestrated flow of goods, funds and information because it had teams of engineers and ergonomic experts that studied every detail of the delivery chain to ensure the efficient use of ‘time in motion’.
This included the drivers of the new fleet completing the UPS ‘340 degree method’ training, which described the path of movement that the drivers followed when retrieving a parcel and exiting the vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 309 panel van high-roof vehicles will spearhead UPS’s campaign to improve its delivery capabilities in the South African courier market, which Horsfall estimates to be worth R7-billion a year.
The Pullman-brown Sprinters, a colour that Mercedes-Benz had to specially mix for UPS, are imported from Germany and are factory-fitted with specialised UPS upgrades to meet express delivery needs. The spe- cial components have been durability-tested by UPS.
The package vans have brake and clutch component specifications that accommodate high use and the door handles can withstand use hundreds of times a day, as would be expected in a rigorous daily delivery schedule.
The parcel shelves in the loading area have a substantial lip to hold parcels in place and can support up to 80 kg/m.
The package vans have carlike safety features, which include an antilock break system and an adaptive electronic stability programme. The electronic safety nets take the load that the vehicle is carrying into account under heavy breaking.
The vehicles also have an electronic system that prevents them from rolling backwards when trying to pull away on an uphill, which reduces the possibility of an accident.
The driver is able to exit the vehicle from the passenger side onto the pavement, which is safer than exiting onto the road.
The input from UPS is the result of tests that UPS in-house industrial engineers have been conducting since 1954 to refine all the components of its logistics chain to ensure maximum efficiency and enhanced productivity wherever possible.
“UPS’s strategic weapon is technology. Mercedes-Benz is honoured to work with UPS,” said Mercedes-Benz director of sales and marketing for commercial vehicles South Africa Kobus van Zyl.
UPS has used Mercedes-Benz vehicles worldwide for the past 20 years, from Mercedes-Benz’ smallest panel vans to its largest truck tractors, including fuel cell and hybrid delivery drive trains, which Mercedes-Benz designed with UPS’s researchers, said Van Zyl.
He concluded that there were between 700 and 1 000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles operating for UPS worldwide.