UPS: Delivering excellence around the world

Q4 2018
UPS: Delivering excellence around the world

In 2018, United Parcel Service (UPS) reached the milestone of 30 years of SITA membership. We talk to SITA Council Representative Brant Venice, of UPS Flight Operations, about the global logistics company’s membership of the air transport community and the importance of technology to its worldwide operations.

A truly global organization

Running a successful global logistics company demands the utmost in operational excellence, in the air and on the ground. The household name of UPS is associated with global and local presence, enabling aircraft, ships, trucks, trains and vans to expedite efficient deliveries the world over. As a SITA member for three decades, UPS underpins its global and local capabilities with technology, including a range of UPSITA services such as air-to-ground communications and messaging solutions.

With 247 aircraft taking care of its air cargo business, like SITA, this truly international organization serves over 220 countries and territories worldwide. UPS’s all-points international air hub is located in Kentucky, with other regional hubs in strategic cities across the US, with the rest of the world covered by international air hubs in Miami, Hamilton, Cologne, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.

What are the benefits to your air cargo business of being a SITA member?

Brant Venice: Being a member of SITA makes us a part of a worldwide air transport community of over 400 airlines and airports. For a truly global company like UPS, that’s important to us. Our SITA membership allows us to stay current with direction changes in the world’s aviation industry, including business and technology trends that will impact us, new and emerging technologies among them, of course.

Critically, our SITA membership also opens up access to industry partners in locations spanning every corner of the globe. That gives us insight into how they’ve deployed technologies across their organizations to gain operational efficiencies, as well as a better understanding of strategies for embracing IT to meet future industry challenges, particularly as air transportation becomes ever more popular.

How important is collaboration to the players across the cargo business?

BV: There are many stakeholders involved in moving cargo by air. It’s critical for all of us to work better together as we deploy technology across the various steps of the cargo journey.

So, collaboration is of major importance and it drives the adoption of common approaches and industry standards. This allows for effective technology solutions to be put into place to minimize the implementation time and costs of existing and new technology.

Vitally, common approaches and standards help to create a seamless process across the logistics chain, which is used by all service providers to keep operating costs down. SITA’s engagement and its global community of members help in the development of solutions and products that establish and encourage standard global communications and messaging formats and access protocols between multiple logistic partners, wherever in the world they may be. 

How is technology helping you with moving cargo?

BV: For our air cargo business, a top priority is to get cargo through the airport and onto the aircraft smoothly and safely, at both ends. In the same way as the air travel industry is seeking the seamless passenger journey, we’re focused on seamless processes along the way for air cargo operations.

So we’re constantly looking at where we can make operational efficiencies. Obviously, technology and innovation are key to bringing about improvements. Let me give you an example.

One significant way UPS has incorporated technology and innovation into our operations is through the development of the SITAONAIR AIRCOM platform. This combines air-to-ground communications management with integration capabilities, and allows our aircraft to make the best use of data while being operationally efficient.

For UPS, the AIRCOM platform increases messaging efficiencies across our entire fleet as it processes messages from multiple sources and converts them into a common standardized format for distribution. Also, it connects into existing networks and aids in the obsolescence of legacy systems. This is important in reducing our organization’s technical debt.  

What about IT’s role in supporting your global coverage?

BV: SITA’s global presence, infrastructure and technology for the air transport community are key to supporting UPS’s fleet of 247 aircraft. We’re well aware of the reach of SITA’s shared industry platforms and infrastructure, and its role in enabling aircraft, passengers and cargo to move efficiently around the world.

So SITA’s infrastructure helps communications with our aircraft, which serve destinations spanning the globe, where UPS provides services. Membership of SITA allows for collaboration across the airline industry, helping all of us to better transition to and deploy standard industry-wide solutions, globally. Leveraging SITA’s technology has also allowed UPS to enhance and improve our ability to analyze additional and more detailed data from our fleet. This enables us to be more proactive in our aircraft maintenance and engineering. 

What technologies are you looking at for the years ahead?

BV: Looking to the future, UPS will be seeking to engage in further conversation about blockchain. We’re aware of SITA’s work in identifying potential use cases for blockchain, and blockchain’s potential in enabling better industry collaboration, trust among partners and identity management.

Importantly, we’re also closely watching developments in machine learning and data science, which are improving on-time networks through more predictive analysis for aircraft payloads, maintenance and efficiencies. These are key developments for us and we believe it’s important for the industry to collaborate to bring such technologies to the industry in an effective, standardized way that can be easily embraced around the world.

What about your cybersecurity efforts?

We’re strongly focused on combating cybersecurity, and it’s a joint effort between our company’s IT staff and dedicated cybersecurity teams. Intimately understanding inside and outside threats is vital to UPS, through highly specialized staff, tools and cyber intelligence.

The continuous reduction of threat and risk is a never-ending endeavor. The cyber landscape is changing daily and requires our cybersecurity teams to be continually researching and adapting to stay ahead of any threats. 

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