Category Archives: Work Performance Measurement

A Game of Inches

A Game of Inches

To sustain growth, UPS executives are looking for new efficiencies. For example. the: are seeking to make work standards for truck mechanics more exact. And at UPS’s Parsippany, New Jersey, package sorting hub, I of more than 100 that the company operates. officials are making the most of space by parking delivery trucks just five inch-s apart. But productivity has its price. New York City says that UPS have received more than million in unpaid parking tickets since March 1985 while making deliveries. A company attorney says the amount is “much too high UPS has contested The fine.. The new competition from Roadway Package System looms

The new competition from Roadway Package System looms large. Roadway 1<, cutting labor expenses 20 percent to 30 percent by u ing independent drivers. Because Roadway drivers buy their own trucks, uniforms. and insurance. Roadway is saying moon, that it is using to automate package sorting. “We’ll use technology to be the low-cost producer says Bram Johnson. a Roadway vice president.

Roadway says it reduced personnel 25 percent at its five sorting hubs through automation. At its York, Penn ylvarria, hub, for example, a moving belt of tilt trays following instructions from a computer drops packages down a series of chutes.


1. Describe the UPS approach to job design and work measurement.

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the UPS approach?

3. What would you do differently? Why?

Burgeoning Competition

Burgeoning Competition

If the competition intensifies, productivity improvements will be at the heart of UPS"s counterattack. Indeed, UPS long has used efficiency to overcome rivals. Founded in Seattle in 1907 as a messenger service, UPS over the years won parcel deliveries from department stores and captured package business once handJed by the U.S. Postal Service because of its lower rates and superior service.

UPS's founder, James E. Casey, put a premium on efficiency. In the 1920s, he turned to Frank B. Gilbreth and other pioneers of time study to develop techniques to measure the time consumed each day by each UPS dri'ver. Later, UPS engineers cut away the sides of a UPS delivery truck, or "package car" as the company calls the vehicle, to study
a driver at work. Resultant changes in package loading techniques increased efficiency 30 percent.

Mr. Casey also shaped the company culture, which stresses achievement and teamwork in addition to efficiency. Copies of his tract, "Determined Men," and of "Pursuit of Excellence," a pamphlet written by one-time UPS Chairman George Smith, are handed out to the company's managers. "We still u e Jim's and George's quotes in everything we do," says George Lamb Jr., a UPS director and past chairman.

Another guiding principle: a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. The company's drivers all of them Teamsters. earn wages of $15 an hour, about $1 more than the best-paid drivers at other trucking companies earn. With overtime, many UPS driver gross $35,000 to $40,000 a year.

In return, UPS seeks maximum output from its drivers, as is shown by the time study Mrs. Cusack is conducting. On this day in uburban Whippany, she determines time allowances for each of Polishes 120 stops while watching for inefficiency in hi method. "What are you doing. Joe?" she a ks as handling packages more than once. She says that a mere 30 seconds ,  ball    into big delays by day's end.

Some UPS drivers with nicknames such as Ace, Hammer. Slick. and Rocket Shoes take pride in meeting the standards day after day. 'We used to joke that a good driver get to his stop and back to the car before the seat belt stopped swaying," Mrs. Cusack says. (UPS has since redesigned its seat belts to eliminate sway.)

But not all UPS drivers enjoy the pace. For example, Michael Kipila. a driver in East Brunswick, New Jersey, says, "They squeeze every ounce out of you. You're always in a hurry, and you can't work-relaxed." Some drivers say they cut their breaks in order to finish on time.

UPS officials maintain that the company's work standards are not just a matter of increasing output, but of making the job easier. "If you do it our way, you'll be less tired at the end of the day," says a UPS spokesman.

New Competition

New Competition

Those techniques are about to he tested. Long engaged in a the: L.S. Postal Service. UPS recently has charged into overnight deli. er} against Federal Express Corporation, Purolator Courier, Airborne Freight, Emery Air Freight, and others. What' more. it now is being challenged on its own turf by Roadway Services Inc., which in the early 1990s started a parcel delivery company called Roadway Package System that is implementing management ideas of its own.

The upstart competitor-boasts that its owner-operator drivers, unlike UPS's closely scrutinized, but highly paid and unionized, drivers, are motivated by the challenge of running their own business. "Our people don't drive brown trucks; they own their trucks," says Ivan Hoffman, a vice president of Road way Roadway also is trying to gain the edge in productivity by eliminating people as much as possible through automation. Its package hubs use bar codes, laser scanners, computers and special mechanical devices to sort packages, a task still handled at UPS by armies of workers. UPS calls its rival's methods unreliable, inflexible, and expensive. Those are the same epithets that Roadway hurls at UPS's human sorters.

The outcome of this budding competition interests package shippers. "UPS has taken the engineering of people as far as it can be taken," says Michael Birkholm, the director of transportation of American Greetings Corporation. "But the question is whether technologically sophisticated Roadway can dent the big brown UPS machine.

Getting Up to Speed

Getting Up to Speed

At UPS, more than 1,000 industrial engineers use time studies to set standards for a myriad of closely supervised tasks. Drivers are instructed to walk to a customer’s door at the brisk pace of three feet per second and to knock first lest seconds be lost searching for the doorbell. Supervisors then ride with the “least best drivers” until they learn to finish on time.

“It’s human nature to get away with as much as possible:’ says Michael Kamienski. a UPS district manager. “But we bring workers up to our level of acceptance. We don’t go down to their level.”

If UPS isn’t quite a throwback to old-time work measurement. It nevertheless runs counter to the drift of many U.S, companies. To increase productivity. others are turning more often to employee-involvement techniques that stress consultation and reject the rigid monitoring of worker.

“Workers are better educated and want more to about what happens to them:’ says Roger Weiss, a vice president of H. B. Maynard & Co., a consulting concern. “Time study is a dark-ages technique, and it’s dehumanizing to track someone around with a stopwatch.”

UPS dismisses the criticism, “We don’t use the standard a, hammers, but they do give accountability:’ says Larry P. Breaking. the company senior ice president for engineering. “Our ability to manage labor and hold it  accountable is the to our success.”

Up to Speed: United Parcel Service Gets Deliveries Done by Driving Its Workers.

Up to Speed: United Parcel Service Gets Deliveries Done by Driving Its Workers.

Grabbing a package under his arm. Joseph Policy, a driver for United Parcel Service (UPS), bounds from his brown delivery truck and toward an office building here. A few paces behind him, Marjorie Cusack, a UPS industrial engineer, clutches a digital timer. Her eyes fixed on Mr. Polise, she counts his steps and times his contact with customers Scribbling on a clipboard, Mrs. Cusack records every second taken up by stoplights. traffic, detours, doorbells, walkways, stairways, and coffee breaks. “If he goes to the bathroom, we time him,” she says.

Such attention to detail is nothing new at UPS. the nation’s largest deliverer of packages. Through meticulous human-engineering and close scrutiny of its 152,000 employees, the privately held company, which is based in Greenwich, Connecticut. has grown highly profitable despite stiff competition. In fact. UPS is one of the most efficient companies anywhere, productivity experts say.

“You never see anybody sitting on his duff at UPS.” says Bernard La Londe. a transportation professor at The Ohio State University. “The only other place you see the same commitment to productivity is at Japanese companies:’