The Big Hubs- Engineering Meets Logistics- FedEx, DHL, Amazon, UPS

The Big Hubs- Engineering Meets Logistics- FedEx, DHL, Amazon, UPS
December 19, 2019 Prime Engineering

It is no secret that online shopping and the digital world has revolutionised business processes. With accessibility to nearly every existing product through the click of a mouse, the eCommerce market has exploded. What we once drove to the shop to pick up, is arriving on our doorstep. This convenience is even further enhanced by the new standard of next day shipping. All of this is possible with the implementation and development of efficient and effective logistics processes. Engineering and logistics go hand in hand, so much so that you can become a Logistics Engineer! We will explore how modern engineering is hiding throughout different steps of the big hub’s logistics processes.


The powerhouse behind the transportation of goods is the enormous air networks that connect the entire world daily. FedEx alone has more planes in their fleet than Emirates, Etihad & Qatar Airways combined. DHL provides end to end supply chain solutions across more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, including North Korea. UPS used its air freight system to deliver 5.2 billion documents and packages worldwide in 2018. These three big players have grown their air networks for decades. They have been able to test the most efficient flight patterns and have sourced the best locations to build their hubs, many of which outsize the nearest domestic airports!

Amazon Air is a new, breakout member to the logistics game. Amazon Air only delivers Amazon orders to customers. Being such a power player in the retail and tech space, Amazon Air’s ultra-fast growth was to be expected. Since their commencement in 2015, they have already accumulated a fleet of over 50 aircraft, which is only expected to grow with Amazon’s demand from a global customer base.

Automated sorting

When large air courier planes land, the parcels and documents have to be sorted into more specific areas so that the next step of distribution can begin. This next step could either include another flight path or on-road distribution depending on the destination. With millions of packages and documents being delivered daily by each delivery company, an automated sorting system was engineered to make the process more efficient, streamlined and affordable for the company. The automated sorting systems vary between company but one commonality is they all contain a series of label readers and conveyer belts. In 2019, UPS automated its facilities to process 80% of its packages claiming it increased efficiency by up to 35%.

Automated ‘Tuggers’

Tuggers are small vehicles, that were driven by factory workers to move large, irregular items across the freight depot floors. In FedEx and DHL facilities, these vehicles have recently been automated and become self-driving, removing the need for drivers. A great step for the implementation of self-driving technology. An unfortunate side effect of this development is the detriment it has for the jobs of factory workers.

All of these processes would have never actualised without the work of talented engineers! At Prime Engineering we love to make improvements and developments to your work projects. With a wide array of services, we can help you with all of your engineering needs. If you have any mechanical engineering requests or technical issues, we would love to hear from you. Contact us today to see how we can help!