As one of the fastest growing shipping businesses, the company offers its famous FedEx guarantee with confidence on account of its technology. Constantly working to innovate its process, FedEx has developed processing hubs that fully outshine its competitors and ensure customers receive their packages at their scheduled deliveries. The systems expand and adapt all the time, but to have a real glimpse into just how a package gets to where it’s supposed to—on time—you have to know the newest technology that helps ensure the FedEx guarantee.
If you track your packages often, you’ll see tons of major cities pop up in the system, and it’s normal to assume that workers in those cities are handling, sorting, and scanning your package as it passes through there. For a lot of shipping companies, this is the case, but FedEx has over fifty completely automated hubs. Once workers unload packages from their trucks onto conveyor belts, no other hand touches them until they get reloaded onto more trucks, heading to their next destination. The buildings through which they travel are nothing more than a complex labyrinth of conveyor belts and scanners: sorting, organizing, and directing packages along their long route.
This is only possible because of FedEx’s policy for vendors to use a universal interface, so that the scanners always encounter the same sorts of labels. Whereas other companies have to sort what’s given to them, the FedEx method has its shipments already accommodated for a quick processing—a method some major retailers are beginning to mimic. With this constraint of a universal interface, a lot of customers may think that all control is out of their hands, but these packaging restrictions are actually minimal: companies can still ask that FedEx ships a whole collection of packages at the same time, regardless of their size and weight. Because FedEx has such control over the sorting of packages, it’s able to meet these demands—a large collection of packages is as easy for them to route as a single parcel.
This sorting process works through a program designed by computer engineers to be as simple as possible. Rather than have to juggle through a thousand algorithms to determine a package’s destination, the FedEx system breaks things down, and a package can be altered or directed in its original route in a matter of seconds. Because the whole system is automated, engineers can constantly tweak programs to rework small timing methods and the speed of conveyor belts with little to no effect on the operation or speed of the hub. This constant reconfiguration and adaptation is essential to achieving the FedEx guarantee, since the timely arrival of a package sometimes depends on getting through the building to the right truck without a second to spare.
It’s involved, yes, and someone who has stumbled inside one of FedEx’s hubs could easily become nauseous from all the movements and reordering of packages, but the system works. Computers control the most challenging responsibilities of sorting, and human engineers are always on hand to monitor their machines’ performances. With such innovation, it’s difficult not to trust a system like this, and it explains why FedEx has been growing so steadily in the industry.