27. July 2012 12:39
I recently toured the FedEx World Hub in Memphis, TN while attending the Operations Summit show. For those in the small parcel shipping industry, if you ever have the opportunity to take this tour, I highly recommend it. FSI may give thousands of packages in all shapes and sizes to carriers such as UPS and FedEx on a daily basis, and it was very interesting to see what happens next. Packages are processed at major hubs like the one in Memphis, and ultimately placed on trucks for delivery to the recipients. It is organized chaos at its finest. The tours take place in the middle of the night since that is when the majority of the action takes place. We left our hotel around 10:30 PM and got back around 2:00 AM. Here are a few highlights:
- The hub typically handles approximately 1.5 million Express packages per day, not counting Ground, which is handled elsewhere. Maximum capacity is around 500,000 packages per hour.
- Approximately 10,000 employees.
- 684 aircraft, with a plane landing on average every 90 seconds. When they were grounded during 9/11, they had a hard time fitting all the planes on the ground.
- Memphis International Airport is adjacent to the FedEx hub. Their planes must receive clearance to take off and land from both FedEx and the Memphis airport.
- After 11:00 PM, the only planes in the sky around Memphis are FedEx planes. They started in 1973 with 14 small aircraft (see example below) and 186 overnight packages to 25 cities.
- Surprisingly, much of the sorting is done by hand. An initial hand sort separates packages into three basic types: envelope, package and irregular/special handling. From there, the envelopes and packages are arranged on conveyor belts and hand fed into more automated sortation systems. As the packages move down the belts, the system scans them and directs them down appropriate chutes according to their destination. Here, they are hand stacked onto another plane or truck.
If a visit to Memphis isn’t likely anytime soon, be sure to check out a recent show produced by CNBC called “UPS/FedEx – Inside the Package Wars”. It gives a great overview and behind the scenes tours of what takes place at these incredible factories. And of course, keep sending all your fulfillment business our way, as both FSI and UPS/FedEx have plenty of capacity ready for you!