The need for speed

The need for speed

While always a key goal, reducing transit times for ground freight shipments is receiving greater emphasis from express and LTL carriers as they seek to gain a competitive advantage over one another.

While always a key goal, reducing transit times for ground freight shipments is receiving greater emphasis from express and LTL carriers as they seek to gain a competitive advantage over one another.

United Parcel Service (UPS), for example, said it is accelerating ground package movements between more than 12 million ZIP code pairings by one day or more starting this week. These improvements include lanes originating in eight states (Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Montana, North Dakota, western Nebraska and Wyoming) and more than 70 markets, speeding up more than 75,000 packages nationwide every day.

UPS added this is part of a 2008 initiative to improve service for almost half-a-million customers nationwide without changing their pickup and delivery times and follows transit time improvements in 2006 that helped more than 1.2 million customers in 11 metropolitan areas.

“Accelerated ground service means customers can get to market faster, turn inventory quicker and improve customer service,” said Alan Gershenhorn, senior vp-worldwide sales & marketing for UPS. “It’s how we’re continually helping companies of all sizes to conduct business more efficiently.”

FedEx Freight, the LTL arm of express carrier FedEx Corp., has also accelerated delivery service in many metropolitan areas this year. The firm said it has cut transit times from three to two days in many cities while boosting shipment speed across more than 1,000 U.S. lanes in the past year.

The need for speed isn’t restricted to just domestic lanes, either – it’s also becoming a must-have function for trans-border and global shipments. “For shipments crossing the border, there is an increased need for speed and precision just as we have seen for domestic U.S. shipments,” said John O’Sullivan, president of regional LTL carrier USF Holland, owned by YRC Worldwide. “We are committed to matching the needs of our growing customer base.”

USF Holland is now offering time-specific guaranteed delivery before 3:30 p.m. between the U.S. and Canada and will expand its options for service by noon and by 9:00 am currently offered within its U.S. domestic system between Canada and the U.S. later this year. “We have experienced an increased volume of shipping to and from Canada,” said O’Sullivan. “As such, [we’ve] tuned the process for shipments crossing the border so that our customers will receive the same speed, reliability and damage-free services provided elsewhere in our system.”

Express carrier DHL is another company trying to speed up freight service, this time on a global scale. Its subsidiary DHL Global Forwarding recently noted how important shipment speed is for international companies today and is one reason why Siemens recently renewed its global deal with DHL.

“Our solutions have a proven record to reduce costs, streamline the supply chain process, reduce transit times and deliver overall improved service levels and visibility to Siemens' customers,” said Hans Toggweiler, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding-North America. “We’ll continuing focus on improving service levels, reducing costs and streamlining Siemens’ overall supply chain.”

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