While most companies have an understandable desire to reduce fuel costs, shipping companies like UPS may be at the top of the list. According to UPS, a typical driver can make between 120 and 175 drop-offs per day. This creates a huge number of possible routes a driver can take. Finding the most efficient route helps both UPS and the driver save time and money.
The number of possible routes is incredibly large. Using combinatorial mathematics, the number of possibilities would have 199 digits. However, UPS is highly motivated to tackle this Big Data problem as reducing one mile per day per driver could save the company $50 million.
To help solve their Big Data problem, UPS created a system called the On Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) system. According to UPS, this algorithm has roughly 1,000 pages of code and they use it to analyze 200,000 possibilities per truck route in realtime. This allows the algorithm to provide an optimal route in roughly three seconds.
After being applied to 10,000 of the 55,000 North American delivery routes, ORION saved UPS 1.5 million gallons of fuel. Expect the savings to increase as they complete all 55,000 North American delivery routes by 2017.
To make this happen, UPS uses a team of 500 dedicated resources to handle the more than 250 million address data points along with each customer’s shipping requirements. ORION provides each UPS driver with optimized routing instructions.
ORION is an analytics technology that UPS has been working on for 10 years. In order to collect the data, research scientists at UPS started using piloting telematics along with advanced GPS tracking equipment and sensors in each vehicle and started testing in 2008.
By integrating all of the capture data from routes, performance, and driver safety along with the driver’s mobile device and telematics technologies, ORION is able to create more efficient routes and save up to $50 million per year for UPS.