UPS announced a plan this week to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save fuel during the busy holiday season and beyond.
The company will roll out the On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) software with hopes of optimizing 10,000 delivery routes by the end of the year, reducing miles driven and reinforcing the Atlanta, GA-based firm's sustainability efforts.
Though it's still years away from full deployment across the company's U.S. operations, UPS says the software will have saved more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 14,000 metric tons by the end of the year, according to a company statement.
"The development and deployment of ORION is one of the strongest examples of our company's commitment to continual investments in operational and customer technologies to deliver significant operational benefits, taking advanced mapping and route optimization to new levels," said Dave Barnes, UPS senior vice president and chief information officer.
"These benefits range from cost savings to positive environmental impacts and enable our company to raise the bar even higher on efficiency and customer service."
The routes implemented by ORION have shown a mileage reduction thus far. The company estimates that cutting one mile each day per driver can save up to $50 million over the course of a year, but also reduce emissions across the country. UPS began working on the software a decade ago, but took a big step five years by installing advanced GPS tracking equipment and sensors in its vehicles. The company prototyped ORION at 11 sites between 2008 and 2011. Route, performance and safety data produced by the equipment, combined with telematics technologies and ORION algorithms, led to more more efficient efficient routes for UPS drivers.
Photo credit: UPS
For example, delivery routes were designed to minimize left turns, which require vehicles to wait at intersections for oncoming traffic to clear before proceeding. Using a proprietary telematics system to gather 200 data points from equipment on each vehicle, UPS eliminated 206 million minutes of idling time and saved more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel last year, Bloomberg reported.
U.S. deployment to nearly all 55,000 routes should be complete in 2017, while global deployment will come further down the line. Part of the difficulty in optimizing 45,000 additional routes is taking the MyChoice feature into account, which essentially lets some customers delay or move routes, via a smartphone app. The company promised future enhancements to the program as part of the announcement, but went into no further detail.
“We’re using big data to drive smarter and the idea is an extension of that to other things,” Chief Information Officer David Barnes said in an interview. “This is a world where we have such levels of connectivity the information in almost all cases is coming faster than the packages are being picked up.
“We brought that information together and looked at developing a mathematical model that would take into account the physics of the driving route, the knowledge of the driver and information from the packages to bring it all together with optimal routing.”
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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