Hello and welcome to my first upside peak-season post. Join me as I talk to various UPSers who each play a different role during the busiest time of year.
Peak season is aptly named for the influx of packages shipped to loved ones during the holidays. Daily air volumes for the world’s largest package delivery company can double during this time. But what many people don’t know is that a small team of 16 unassuming people in Louisville work hard all year to make these few weeks run as smoothly as possible for UPS Airlines.
One of those people is Peak Planning Manager Leslie Hamilton. Leslie is going on her 20th year with UPS, and this is her third season as a peak planner.
Q: First of all, what is involved in planning peak?
A: A lot. People tend to think that we prepare for peak shortly before it happens, but we begin planning right after the previous year’s peak. The first thing we do is go over the previous year and see what needs to be improved. Then over the next few months, we look at the number of shipments and how smoothly they flowed through our system to make a plan for the next peak, which changes constantly because of network and operation updates along with guidelines from corporate. We incorporate these changes and always monitor current trends. Right now is a perfect example, we are trying to plan for an unpredictable economy. It is very challenging.
Q: What does your plan take into account?
A: Our job is to get the Next Day Air, 2nd Day Air and 3 Day Select packages to customers on time and in the most efficient way possible. We work with flight schedules to get the right aircraft to the right airports. We also work with aircraft lease schedules, as well as rail and truck schedules. I like to compare it to a puzzle. We start out with all of these little pieces that fit perfectly together, that’s our plan. Once peak starts, something may change and the pieces may no longer fit—it’s a constant challenge to rework and re-solve this puzzle.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: The people I work with in Louisville and in the regions. Plus, I love seeing what can be accomplished when everyone works together.
Q: You’ve talked about how you plan all year, but what does the group do during peak itself?
A: A week before Thanksgiving, we leave our normal work area and move over to the Global Operations Center in Louisville, that’s where the heart of the airline is. Our peak plan is put into action across the country. We’re there to support the Contingency group and help them rework the puzzle every time it changes. We go back to our normal work area in January and start planning for the next peak.
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