- GLS has added automated sortation systems to its hubs in Las Vegas and Ontario, California, boosting the parcel and freight delivery provider's processing capacity, according to a news release earlier this month.
- The material-handling systems can each process more than 5,000 parcels hourly to predetermined sort lanes based on destination, the release said. They also improve processing accuracy through their parcel weighing, measuring and scanning capabilities and can help workers complete tasks in half the time.
- The Ontario facility was "completely at capacity" when it was running a manual sortation process, Steven Bergan, president of GLS US, said in an interview. Now, the facility "easily has over double" its maximum parcel sortation capacity while cutting down labor costs by about 60%, he added.
For smaller parcel carriers, speeding throughput in the near term is especially critical, as their growth outpaced that of the largest delivery companies last year, per the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index. For example, DHL eCommerce Solutions has added robotic sorters at an Atlanta distribution center while Pitney Bowes is deploying automated sortation systems from Ambi Robotics in U.S. hubs.
For GLS, the largest benefit of its new sorters is that they unlock more efficient space utilization, Bergan said. This allows the company, which offers service throughout the western U.S., to take on more volume in a smaller footprint.
"We've been able to shut down satellite locations and consolidate them into that Ontario location," Bergan said.
GLS completed installation of the Ontario and Las Vegas sortation systems about six months ago, and the investments should help GLS "a ton" during the looming peak season, Bergan said. During the week of Labor Day, GLS was able to handle a surge in volume "without missing a beat," thanks to the sortation investments.
GLS has bolstered its sortation capabilities beyond those two hubs as it keeps up with demand that has boomed since the pandemic. The company recently upgraded its facilities in Phoenix and Portland, Oregon, along with those in the California cities of Hayward, Sacramento, Santa Fe Springs and Visalia, according to the news release.
Bergan noted that GLS made decisions surrounding package sortation investments before the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated warehouse hiring challenges.
"Things were bad then, let alone what occurred after, so we've just been very fortunate that the timing of getting [the installations] all completed has worked in our favor," Bergan said.
Bolstering hub automation can help keep package volumes flowing while reducing the work tied to manual labor. FedEx and UPS have been investing in automated bagging and label application abilities, sortation systems and warehouse-roaming robots.
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