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UPS uses disruptive technologies to stay ahead

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DISRUPTIVE technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and drones have been helping United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) in how it operates in the logistics industry, which itself is prone to disruptions.

UPS has relied on technology to stay ahead, the logistics company said on Tuesday during the inaugural Innovation Series, a platform organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council, the Makati Business Club and Manila House.

Chris Buono, managing director of UPS Philippines, said as a high-asset, fragmented and competitive industry, logistics has a great potential for disruption.

“Resource usage, growing congestion, urbanization, along with greater advances in technology, customer demand, inefficiency and new developments in materials engineering have really pushed logistics and supply chain management into a state where companies have to innovate to stay ahead of the competition,” he said.

Mr. Buono said UPS was able to use technologies like AI as a tool for data generation, making data more visible, and easier to analyze and utilize.

UPS has developed technology that caters to its customers (UPS Bot and My Choice), retailers and merchants (Where To Go), and predictive logistics (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation tool, or ORION).

In blockchain technology, UPS has applied for a patent for its utilization and distributed ledger technology to route packages in the supply chain. Through this, transparency and efficiency of data among parties in the chain are increased.

UPS is also using drone technology, not only in operations, but also when reaching out to rural communities. Drones have become a solution to the geographical problems faced by the logistics industry. The service focuses on the delivery of health care products to inaccessible communities.

“For UPS, disruption has became a part of how we do things every single day . . . we adopt, we adapt, and then we adept,” Mr. Buono said.

“With the emergence of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and smarter transportation, we believe that these technologies should be seen as tools that would make our people more efficient, help us work safer, and create an overall better customer service,” he added.

In the Philippines, he said UPS was still looking at the implementation of these new technologies.

“The opportunity is to be able to grow this country,” he said. “The ability to move into new areas, new markets really is great.”

“Yes, I have plans, but stay tuned,” he said about the company’s expansion plans.

UPS currently has six facilities in the Philippines located in Cebu, Clark, which is the main hub, and Parañaque. It also has a partnership with Air21, allowing it nationwide coverage. — Vincent Mariel Galang