It appears that UPS is in good company with their decision to explore the use of composite materials. I've read about several other pilot projects in the mass transit and delivery sector where they are out in front leveraging both new materials and alternative energy vehicles to try to cut operating costs. Given that the trucks are the fuel constitute huge operating costs, the strategy makes a whole lot of sense.
So now on to the difficult decision: Reduce operating costs or deliver 900 lbs more packages without raising the current cost. Ether way, it is a huge win. Hooray for enterprise for innovating new cost savings in transportation. All we got from government was a PSA about correct tire inflation.
I don't think UPS has to make a decision between reducing operating costs or delivering more packages. The company says this particular truck is best suited to urban use, where its narrower size makes it easier to get around--and therefore speeding deliveries. As the article states, the 900 lbs difference is in the truck's weight, not the weight of its contents, and the contents difference is measured in cubic feet: it's about 70 cubic feet smaller.
Beth, thanks for that input about other mass transit and delivery projects using new materials. UPS is certainly not alone: the company building these trucks, Utilimaster, has made similar delivery vehicles for other companies, including Federal Express.
Agreed that these are very good for US urban markets but also good for international cities with older roads. The mass retail expansion from the west into India, for example, will require more international shipments. I wouldn't want to be on a road in Mumbai along side one of the current UPS trucks.
Now, they need to update the uniforms and logo. I'm inspired!
A 40 percent savings is significant and impressive. It's hard to believe that plastics and composites are that much lighter than aluminum. Any word on the durability and crash resistance with the new materials?
40% fuel savings after 900 pounds reduction in weight is remarkable. Really makes you rethink the whole alternative fuel programs. If that is indeed the case, then congratulations to UPS, but even more so to the Truck Maker, UtiliMaster. The list of items that underwent experimental material updates is lengthy, and they should be recognized for that engineering effort.
Now, I wonder if they are locked to an exclusive with UPS to distribute the vehicles --- or, are able to market their new success to other freight companies, DHL, FEDEX, etc-? It all depends on who paid for the light-weight materials research. Ann Thryft mentioned some bit of insight to that query ,,,,,,
Very often, roads in developing countries, such as India or Nigeria, are consistently in various states of disrepair. Lighter vehicles lead to fewer potholes and damage to roads. Here in California, there have been debates to make parts of I5, in Los Angeles, semi-truck free in order to lessen the cost of constant repair due to heavy trucks.
If the cargo weight remains the same but the vehicle weight is lighter, it's a small step in the right direction.
And, if the new UPS vehicles are manufactured locally, even better. Other companies could benefit from the technology.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.