FedEx Annual Report 2018

Automation

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Automation helps shoulder the load

As e-commerce grows, so do the sizes of the products people buy. Oversize items such as trampolines, furniture, and canoes are the fastest-growing portion of FedEx Ground package volume. And they are tough to fit on a conveyor belt.

Meet Jefe, one of several self-driving tuggers programmed to transport the bulky stuff safely and efficiently around the FedEx Ground hub in Greensboro, North Carolina. Packed with laser-based sensors, cameras, and navigation tools, the tuggers can “see” their working environment. They can spot obstacles, navigate around them, and even find another route if needed. Automating simple, repetitive tasks such as package handling means team members can focus on high-value skilled work that can further their careers.

Tuggers are part of a long-term strategy to continue improving efficiency and reliability. The Greensboro hub, like many FedEx Ground facilities, is highly automated already, allowing it to process large volumes of packages quickly and efficiently. This is a competitive advantage, especially during the holiday season.

Other leading-edge technologies being tested and piloted across FedEx are:

  • Automation that can unload shipments from our trucks and onto sortation conveyor belts.
  • Mobile robots in FedEx Trade Networks facilities that transport items efficiently and safely.
  • Sensors on our airport tugs to help drivers avoid collisions during heavy operations.
  • On-highway truck platooning of wirelessly connected tractors pulling double 28-foot trailers while maintaining safety and improving fuel efficiency.