11 June 2008

Travel Comfort

Actually, that’s: the travel of our comforter.

Taking advantage of a pre-Father’s Day sale at Macy’s, with an offer for free shipping, we ordered a new comforter from Macys.com, along with some clothes for the baby. Early yesterday morning, I received an e-mail alerting me that the first part of my order had shipped, and then today got a note that the remainder was on its way. This was not an urgent delivery; it was idle curiosity on my part, but I decided to click on the link to track the shipment.

Boy, did I get a surprise!

As the picture above – the package tracking information from UPS – shows, the comforter started its journey in Nashville, Tennessee. From there it went to ... Knoxville. And then Roanoke, Virgina. And then Laurel, Maryland. And then Secaucus, New Jersey, followed by Maspeth, New York. From Maspeth it made it into Manhattan, where it was finally delivered.

At a time when oil prices are sky-high, and the cost of jet fuel in particular is staggering, I cannot understand why UPS would consciously choose to ship my comforter to five different locations between here and Nashville, scanning the box (if not necessarily unloading and reloading it) at each location. This from a company that constantly touts its strength providing supply chain services that it pegs to helping companies “Synchronize the Movement of Goods, Funds, and Information.” I think UPS might want to deploy its own consulting team on matters like this, and save itself and its shareholders a little money – and the environment a little CO2 exhaust – before offering to help anyone else. If nothing else, the trek from Secaucus to Maspeth was totally gratuitous: the two locations are basically opposite each other, with Manhattan in the middle, which means UPS trucked the comforter within 4 miles of my home without delivering it – instead taking it an extra 12+ miles (round trip) out of the way to Maspeth.

There’s a great, ironic kicker to this story, too. We opened up the box and on top, amidst the packing information, was a small postcard-sized slip from Macy’s.

It says: “Packed a new way to protect our environment.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to equate a greater level of identification of each step of a box's movement with all the in/out moments with poor supply chain planning. If you think that having a flood of separate small UPS local delivery vans all leave Secaucus to go to different points in New Jersey, New York City, let alone Long Island, rather than a larger truck take the NYC & Long Island boxes to a central distribution center in Maspeth from which the familar brown vans work their standard routes, then your understanding of efficient and fuel conserving operations and mine or of supply chain models are radically different.

Not to overextend, but the general impression of the underlying cause for American overcomsumption and fuel inefficiency is the expectation that one's personal pleasure and convenience is the 'driving' factor in all decisions.

12:08 PM  
Blogger The Editor said...

This would be a fair point, were it not for the fact that "a flood of separate small UPS local delivery vans" does go out and deliver stuff in the end. If one looks at a map of the region, it's not crazy to suggest that this "flood" of vans could just as easily leave from Secaucus as from Maspeth. They are virtually equidistant in relation to deliveries in Manhattan - thus making a trip to Maspeth out of the way for Manhattan deliveries (but very much on the way for Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island).

12:14 PM  

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