A hub for the future

On May 14, 2018, UPS, the multinational package delivery and supply chain management company, officially opened the doors to one of its largest single infrastructure investments outside of the United States in its history. Located at the DP World London Gateway Logistics Park, on the north bank of the River Thames, the new UPS London Hub is a 32,000-square metre package sorting and delivery facility with the capacity to process up to 28,000 packages per hour. With room to grow further in the future, and currently providing employment to some 500 people, London Hub will not only act as the company’s UK processing hub and distribution centre, it will also be the gateway to UPS’s global logistics network.

Overseeing the opening of London Hub, and its subsequent months in operation, has been Mark Vale, President for UPS UK, Ireland and Nordics. Mark has been with UPS for the better part of 30 years, 25 of which have been spent outside of the UK, but he was drawn back to the country in April 2018 by the many opportunities that lay ahead for the business. “There is much to be optimistic and excited about in the UK right now,” he details. “We have around us a business environment that is steadily growing, and one where UPS is continuing to increase its market share at the same time that we are investing heavily in our infrastructure and people.”

Representing an investment of £120 million, London Hub is a vital part of UPS’s $2 billion infrastructure and network investment programme across Europe to add capacity and provide even faster services across the region. Utilising a space equivalent to five football pitches, and containing over four miles of conveyor belts, the facility features some of the most advanced package scanning and sortation equipment available.

“The facility is what we call an ‘automated hub’ that has been designed to not only increase UPS’s processing capacity, but also to streamline our operations, for example helping us to cut our transit times by an average of 24 hours to some of the major European destinations,” Mark continues. “We typically use technology in two ways, firstly to improve the efficiency of our activities and secondly to provide a better level of connectivity to our customers. The technology that we have incorporated into London Hub has already resulted in greater efficiencies across the business, with our cutting-edge sortation processes and advanced package scanning solutions creating unparalleled levels of flexibility.

“Meanwhile, when it comes to providing better connection with customers, people today require as much information about their packages as possible, including where it is, when it will be received and so forth. The technological network we have created at UPS, which London Hub is a crucial part of, helps to provide these details at the most detailed and up-to-date level possible.”

Today, UPS finds itself in the midst of one of its biggest capital investment cycles in recent years, revolving around a $7 billion corporate-wide investment programme In Europe, recent investments other than London Hub, include the announcement of a €130 million facility in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the opening of an €80 million facility in Bielefeld, Germany, and the construction of a €100 million hub in Evry, France. On the UK front, a further addition to the company’s capabilities has also been its best-in-class UPS Integrad driver training facility in Burton-upon-Trent, which Mark is just as enthused about.

“This is a facility that I am personally very proud of and has been designed to up-skill around 1000 UPS drivers per year,” he states. “This is a state-of-the-art location where training encompasses a mixture of 3D computer simulations, webcast learning modules and classroom instruction. It even houses a model town where drivers can get hands-on experience of driving in a safe, efficient manner.”

Present in the UK since 1985, UPS is undoubtedly an iconic brand and it is Mark’s every intention that it continues to grow and expand its reach in the country with each passing year. “We have recently announced our second quarter results, which highlight the fact that UPS has recorded its fourteenth successive quarter of double digit international profit growth. Driving this in 2018, in part, has been a ten per cent growth in export volumes in the UK,” he explains. “One of the big things I want to do is continue to build on the growth we have had here in the UK, while at the same taking good care of our British customers and their needs as global supply chains evolve.

“The actions we plan to take over the coming months and years will allow UPS to become larger and to employ more people, and facilities like London Hub will obviously have an enormous role to play in making this possible. We are extremely confident about what the future holds and about the opportunities we believe exist, which is why UPS will continue to invest in the UK.”

UPS – London Hub
A 32,000-square metre package sorting and delivery facility
One of UPS’s largest infrastructure investments
Capacity to process 28,000 packages per hour