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UPS planning shipment visibility push, CEO says

Project Evolve will provide digital dashboard to capture every move along a package’s supply chain, Tomé says

UPS Inc. is working on an initiative designed to provide end-to-end shipment visibility to all of its customers, CEO Carol Tomé said Tuesday.

The initiative, code-named Project Evolve, will give UPS (NYSE: UPS) customers digital insight into the whereabouts of their shipments from the origin manufacturer to the end customer, whether it be a business or consumer, Tomé (pictured) said during an interview that coincided with an annual one-day event held by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss the outlook for the year ahead.

Tomé did not provide any specifics on the program. Nor would she comment on its progress other than to say it is “not ready for prime time.” UPS was unavailable to comment on her remarks. Various people familiar with UPS and its IT strategies said they were unaware of such an initiative.

Better shipment visibility will be a top priority for UPS and for all providers in the years to come as supply chains become more complex and customers’ delivery demands intensify, Tomé said.

In the interview, Tomé said the supply chain disruptions triggered largely by events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have led to “wake-up calls” among U.S. executives. The extreme volatility caused by the pandemic has given executives and practitioners a “totally different perspective on inventory management,” she said. More manufacturing and distribution will move closer to end customers, which will lead to more inventory stored in warehouses and fulfillment centers and an increase in inventory-carrying costs, she said.

Tomé also advised executives not to treat the expansion of environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs as a fad. ESG compliance will be a key factor in determining how a company is valued as a business and an investment, as well as a good steward of the world around it, she said.

Companies will allocate an increasing amount of capital to ESG compliance in the years ahead, Tomé said. The higher ESG allocations could come at the expense of share repurchases and dividend increases, she said. Businesses don’t have infinite budgets, so “something has to give” when deciding how capital should be earmarked, she added.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2).

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.