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.