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  • Overnight shipping is an absolute masterpiece of logistics that happens every single

  • night.

  • It may not be cheap, but you can get a package shipped from Miami, Florida on a Monday

  • night to Anchorage, Alaska, by 8:30 AM on Tuesday.

  • In fact, you can even ship a package, for example, from Edinburgh, Scotland on a Tuesday

  • and have the package arrive in Anchorage, Alaska by 9am on Wednesday.

  • The speed and efficiency of these worldwide delivery networks is

  • mind-blowing and it all happens while we sleep.

  • The three major consumer courier companies are FedEx, DHL, and UPS and each is as

  • impressive as the last.

  • FedEx has more planes than Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways

  • combined; DHL delivers to every country in the world including North Korea; and UPS flies

  • to more than double as many destinations as the

  • largest passenger airline.

  • Each has a global network that allows for lightning fast shipping

  • at relatively low prices.

  • Behind all this speed are enormous air networks that connect the entire

  • world daily.

  • Each of these three operates hundreds of flights nightly, but FedEx is the best

  • example since their operations make them the largest

  • cargo airline in the world.

  • They have 650 planes flying to 400 destinations carrying 6 million

  • packages every single day and the vast majority of these flights operate to or from one of

  • their hub airports.

  • FedEx's hub airports are spread out all across the world and serve as sorting points

  • where packages are transferred from one plane to

  • another.

  • They has hubs in Singapore, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Seoul, Osaka, Anchorage, Oakland,

  • Dallas, Indianapolis, Greensboro, Miami, Newark, Toronto, Paris, Cologne, Milan, and Dubai,

  • but the most important hub of all is the one in

  • Memphis, Tennessee because that's their SuperHub.

  • Memphis is not a huge cityonly about 650,000 people live therebut the reason FedEx

  • centers their worldwide operations in this city is because of it's location.

  • Memphis is not actually in the geographic center of the US as might

  • make sense, but it is central.

  • You see, only about 200 miles away in Wright County, Missouri is the

  • mean population center of the US.

  • This is the average location of every resident in the

  • US meaning that the FedEx SuperHub in Memphis is

  • the best location to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

  • For similar reasons, UPS has their equivalent global hub, Worldport,

  • nearby in Louisville, Kentucky.

  • The scale of FedEx and UPS' operations in these relatively

  • small cities is staggering.

  • This is the size of the commercial terminal at Memphis Airport while

  • this is the size of FedEx's Superhub.

  • The difference at Louisville airport is even more

  • pronounced where this is the commercial terminal and this is UPS' worldport.

  • You can't even fly to the west coast non-stop on a commercial airline

  • from Louisville and yet UPS flies from this small city to five different continents.

  • FedEx's operations in Memphis, meanwhile, make this

  • airport the second busiest cargo airport in the

  • world above those of enormous cities like Tokyo, Paris, Dubai, Shanghai, and falling

  • short only to Hong Kong.

  • How the FedEx superhub really works is that every night, about 150 planes fly in from

  • all around the world between the hours of 10pm

  • and 1am.

  • Immediately upon arrival, the planes are unloaded and their packages are put into the

  • hub's automated sorting system.

  • Within only 15 minutes, each package arrives at a staging

  • area for its next flight where it's loaded into

  • containers.

  • Planes therefore can start taking off again at 2am and continue to until 4am which

  • means that everywhere in the US can have a FedEx plane arriving by 6am, but there are

  • some destinations that don't ship enough packages

  • to need a non-stop flight to Memphis.

  • To get to small towns fast, FedEx runs flights in small

  • propeller aircraft from the destinations of their

  • larger jets.

  • Presque Isle, Maine, for example, is far too small of a town at about 10,000 residents

  • to fill a full-size plane so, every morning, once the larger planes from Memphis arrive

  • in Manchester, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine,

  • packages bound for Presque Isle are sorted into smaller prop planes that continue north.

  • With this system, even small towns like Presque Isle

  • get their packages by 9am as every spoke in the system essentially functions as a mini-hub.

  • Packages are transferred from planes, to smaller planes, to trucks to reach their destination

  • as fast as possible.

  • Now, it's important to note that not every FedEx package runs through Memphis.

  • That would be incredibly inefficient if a customer

  • wanted to, for example, ship a package from Phoenix, Arizona to Seattle, Washington.

  • While only 1,100 miles separate Seattle from Phoenix,

  • a routing through Memphis would total over 3,000 miles and six hours in flight.

  • The package would still make it overnight, but FedEx would

  • be wasting fuel carrying that package an extra 1,900 miles, so that's why they have secondary

  • hubs.

  • In this case, FedEx's Oakland hub has flights to both Phoenix and Seattle so the

  • package would take a relatively efficient 1,300 mile

  • routing.

  • Memphis essentially serves as the backup hub in case there's not a more efficient

  • routing.

  • The secondary hubs, such as Oakland, in general have flights to destinations that are

  • already served by flights to Memphis, but the destinations from Oakland are high demand

  • destinations that will ship enough packages solely to the west coast to fill entire planes

  • to Oakland.

  • Some destinations, such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, ship enough packages to fill

  • entire planes to Memphis, but not enough to fill flights to Oakland with west coast bound

  • packages so a package shipped from here to the west coast would likely take a rather

  • inefficient routing backtracking to Memphis.

  • But FedEx's most ingenious hub is here in Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Anchorage, with fewer than 300,000 residents, is home to the forth

  • busiest cargo airport in the world.

  • This is, once again, thanks to geography.

  • If you draw a straight line from FedEx's Memphis hub to the one in

  • Osaka, taking into account earth's curvature, it goes directly over Anchorage, Alaska.

  • This airport is just the perfect stop-over point

  • for flights from the US to Asia.

  • Now, dozens of cargo airlines operate in Anchorage but most of

  • them just use the airport as a refueling and crew swap

  • spot.

  • Modern airplanes can fly non-stop from the contiguous United States to Asia, but doing

  • so requires taking more fuel which requires taking

  • less cargo.

  • It's just cheaper to stop in Anchorage, but FedEx and UPS use the stop for something

  • elsesorting.

  • If FedEx wanted to maintain current shipping times without the Anchorage

  • hub, they would likely have to run non-stop flights

  • from each of their Asian hubs to each of their American hubs, but they just don't have

  • the demand to fill this many planes.

  • Instead, they run flights from their Asian hubs to Anchorage

  • then flights from Anchorage many of their American hubs.

  • While stopped in Anchorage, packages from Asia are processed through customs

  • and sorted to be put on the plane bound closest to their destination.

  • This helps cuts down on shipping time and cost.

  • Shipping is an incredibly price-sensitive business.

  • These courier companies rely on enormous contracts with retailers and, when

  • some of these retailers are shipping millions of

  • packages per day, every cent matters.

  • In a lot of ways, however, the express shipping model is

  • inherently expensive largely because of how couriers use their most expensive assetsplanes.

  • So much is centered around those few sorting hours at the big hubs so FedEx's planes

  • all have to wait around to arrive at the exact right moment.

  • Some FedEx hubs, such as Memphis, do sort packages during the day, but the overwhelming

  • majority of their business happens overnight.

  • FedEx's flight from Memphis to Oklahoma City, for example, leaves at 4am and arrives

  • at 5:20am, but then the plane waits around until

  • 10:10pm to fly back to Memphis.

  • That's over 17 hours sitting in Oklahoma City and, on that

  • route, the plane is only flying for about two hours per

  • day.

  • Meanwhile, commercial airlines regularly fly their planes for more than 12 hours per day

  • meaning they have six times higher aircraft utilization.

  • FedEx would never be profitable if they bought all new multi-hundred million dollar

  • aircraft to use for mere hours per day, so they don't.

  • Overwhelmingly, FedEx and other cargo airlines use old aircraft at the end of their lives.

  • You'll almost never see Airbus a300's flying for

  • passenger airlines anymore, yet FedEx, UPS, and DHL

  • collectively own hundreds of them because they're cheap.

  • They didn't spend much purchasing these aircraft, so they don't have to worry

  • about using them enough to offset their cost.

  • UPS does have some brand new 747-800 aircraft, which

  • are highly efficient, but they specifically schedule

  • these planes on their longest routes so that they can recuperate their high purchase price

  • through lower fuel costs.

  • With older aircraft, fuel costs might be higher since the planes are less efficient,

  • but overall it's worth it since it allows FedEx to profitably leave their planes sitting

  • for all but a few hours each day.

  • Some passenger airlines, such as Allegiant Airlines in the US, uses the same

  • strategy purchasing cheaper planes to allow them to fly fewer hours per day profitably

  • and its now a tested and proven business strategy.

  • Express shipping is one of those businesses that requires enormous networks to make

  • work which is why you don't see small shipping companies.

  • It's almost impossible to get started in this business unless, of course, you can

  • make your own demand.

  • Amazon, which ships more than a million packages per day, is getting

  • into the delivery business.

  • They've established a fleet of 32 aircraft and are building out their

  • logistics network.

  • When shipping so many packages, Amazon is operating at a scale where they

  • can profit by taking the shipping companies out of the

  • equation.

  • FedEx, UPS, and DHL, meanwhile, are continuously focusing on further increasing the

  • efficiency of their networks since in this business more than any, time is money.

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How Overnight Shipping Works

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 06 月 10 日
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