Technology Irony 2006

     I Got Your Box   We live in a world of new technology. Every day we are confronted with some new fangled gadget that is supposed to simplify our lives. I remember when a 4-function calculator would draw a crowd, and a cordless telephone was a figment of somebody’s imagination.
        Today we are surrounded by high tech gadgets in our day-to-day lives at home and at work. Life at UPS in the 70’s was very different from a technological standpoint. Deliveries were recorded on a pad of paper. You recorded the 6-digit shipper number and the address. Every package needed a signature so there were no driver-release options. If you ran a residential route you were expected to make at least three indirect attempts on any package in order to prevent a send again. The company had an allowable amount of send agains for each day. You had to call in your stops “off”, and your stops “to go”, and the “number of send agains”. Very often you would be asked to go back and make a second attempt on packages to reduce your send agains.
        You became very good at scanning an entire street for signs of life in order to get rid of your packages. The most innovative change at UPS was the creation of “driver release”, where no signature is required for residential deliveries. The company finally realized that it was going to be physically impossible to obtain a signature for every package. Couple that with the cumbersome ability to search paper records by hand for proof of delivery and you can see why we have come to the technology of today.
        Had UPS not taken the initiative to computerize, we would certainly not exist in today’s economy. Technology has had a very interesting effect on the company. Many drivers feared the loss of their jobs with the implementation of the DIAD. They thought the company could reduce routes to the point that many drivers would lose their jobs. That just didn’t happen.
        Today many drivers are thinking that they will lose their jobs because of PAS. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Technology has served to reduce management positions, not drivers. In the 70’s there was one supervisor for every seven drivers. WOR’s, (work operation reports), were written in pencil. The office people that did the calculations had to wear guards on their sleeves to keep the pencil lead from soiling their clothes.
        Today the WOR is a computer printout. What people were eliminated by this technology? Management. All of the people who did the calculations for your previous day were laid off or transferred. All of the management required to manage the operation under that system were bought out in the largest management reduction push in the history of UPS.
        Today we function in our centers at a level of about one supervisor for 20 drivers. In some locations it is one for 30. The true fact is that technology has replaced management, not the trained driver. In fact the driver has become more valuable because of the cost and difficulty in training new people. If you watch you will see that the percentage of drivers that qualify for driver jobs has dropped. It is very difficult for new people to grasp the nuances of the DIAD, and being able to make proper deliveries. You and I do it every day without thinking, but to the outsider it’s as foreign as a kangaroo.
        My point to you here is that the new technologies make us more valuable. The elimination of management by technology will continue. The frightening thing for the driver is that we will be managed from afar more and more. Some unknown creature sitting behind a computer terminal in Atlanta will dictate our dispatch without any contact to the operation or the people involved.
        You see it daily with the adding or elimination of cars today based on the required stops per car arbitrarily chosen by the “Lord and Master”. Eventually their will be no one to complain to that has any power to affect any changes. Local management will only be there to serve up discipline, and make sure that people show up. (Sounds like today doesn’t it?) The “Lord and Master” will make every decision.
        Does this all sound like a Sci-Fi movie? Is the movie titled…. PAS
        You’re living it today! Look around you!
     This article was written in 2006 about the implementation of PAS. Today’s article would probably be about Telematics. Every place it says PAS, plug in the word Telematics, and you would see that nothing has changed. The new technology has served to replace management. Drivers that can do the job are even more valuable today than in 2006.
     A driver has nothing to worry about until they create a Robot that can drive, and deliver. Of course the “Lord and Master” is alive and well.