At the end of March, UPS announced that it had broken ground on a technology development center in Parsippany that will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 workers.
The 200,000-square-foot facility, which sits on a 20-acre site, will serve as a new location where software developers, designers and other technology professionals, who were previously based in Paramus and elsewhere, can collaborate on developing innovative technology solutions that serve customers, improve operational efficiencies, drive growth and run UPS’s global network, the company said in a release.
NJTechWeekly.com interviewed Andy Dotterweich, senior vice president of technology at UPS, who said that the company wanted to create a center for excellence. Applications programmers and others were working at “facilities that were older and showing their age,” and the company wanted to establish a cutting-edge destination where technologists would feel comfortable working.
“We have a lot of great talent here in New Jersey and we want to retain that talent,” said Dotterweich. Consolidating software operations into a state-of-the-art facility will help to do that, he added. UPS employs more than 4,500 technology workers worldwide.
Some of the applications that have been developed in-house for UPS by developers in New Jersey include UPS My Choice, UPS CampusShip, UPS WorldShip and visibility tools such as UPS Tracking.
New Jersey coders also supported the development of UPS Package Flow Technologies, the company’s suite of solutions that has streamlined UPS’s scanning, automated sorting, driver dispatching and load-assist processes throughout its integrated delivery network.
“We also have a lot of projects related to telematics. …We have sensors on our trucks that allow us to manage our fleet more efficiently,” Dotterweich told us. “We can keep track of idle time and gas mileage. It’s all in an effort to reduce mileage. As an example, our telematics project cut over 280 million minutes of idle time in 2014, which is about 2 million gallons worth of fuel.
“We also have project ORION, which is a progressive way to manage drivers’ routes to make sure they are efficient. It will be managed out of the Parsippany location,” he added.
ORION, or “On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation,” uses fleet telematics and advanced algorithms to gather and calculate data to provide UPS drivers with optimized routes, according to a UPS backgrounder. The technology helps UPS drivers determine the optimal way to deliver and pick up packages within a set of stops defined by a start time, commit time, pickup windows and special customer needs. The system relies on online map data, customized by UPS, to calculate miles and travel times in order to plan the most cost-effective routes. ORION is expected to be implemented in 2017.
Discussing the the new development center in Parsippany, Dotterweich said, “We are very excited about the building. “It’s very progressive in terms of [technology]. … Our software developers and our business groups are very innovative in terms of the products and services that they are developing. The building is being designed to facilitate collaboration.”
This includes a teleconferencing presence, so developers will be able to collaborate with groups worldwide; a lot of white boards, so they can write on the walls and visualize their ideas; and collaboration areas, “for our folks to really brainstorm and come up with new products and services.” UPS is working with the Madison office of the architecture and engineering firm HLW (New York) to design the building, he noted.
Dotterweich said that some of the input into the building design — including collaboration areas and amenities like the cafeteria, hiking trail and fitness center — was obtained through surveys of the technology employees, who told the company what they’d like to see in the new facility to make it conducive to their work. “We took all that input over the last year to design that building.”
“We will have multiple generations in our building, from baby boomers to millennials, and it is designed to support all their different working styles. We are also really focused on that next generation of technology workers as they are entering the workforce to make sure we are attracting the best and brightest minds here in the state of New Jersey,” he said.
Technology is an integral part of UPS, he added, from its mobile platform and website to its global operations. “We are 220 countries worldwide, and it’s all connected through technology,” said Dotterweich. “One of the things that’s great about working with UPS is that there is such a variety of technologies. It’s not just retail or like a lot of industries focused on one part of the business. UPS is such a large presence worldwide. We have such a large global operation, and shippers and consumers, that we get to develop technology for all those different groups.” And this, he said, makes it all very exciting.