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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : November 24, 2010

Sensor test reveals which shipping company has gentlest touch

Ever wondered if the shipping company you use has kid gloves or butter fingers? A recent test, using sensor technology to measure the ups and downs of a package's passage, gives a little insight into some U.S. carriers.

by Helen Leggatt

By equipping a package with a sensor that measures the temperature, flips and drops along its journey, Popular Mechanics set out to determine which U.S. shipping company handled their cargo with care.

Their targets - FexEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service - were all unaware of the test which took place across a select number of routes and using variables such as packages marked "Fragile" and overnight versus day shipping.

The findings are interesting, although not strictly statistically viable as only a handful of trips were analyzed.

The U.S. Postal Service was found to have the gentlest touch with an average of just 0.5 hefty drops per trip compared to an average of 3 and 2 per trip for FedEx and UPS respectively.

However, the U.S. Postal Service was also the most active handler with an average of 12.5 position changes per trip compared with 7 for FedEx and 4 for UPS.

All three carriers did a good job at maintaining a stable temperature, but FedEx got the top rating, with an average change of only 26.01 degrees, compared with 26.8 degrees for UPS and almost 32 degrees for the USPS.

It seems that labeling a package "Fragile" or with instructions on which way up it should be kept does little to help smooth its journey. In fact, Popular Mechanics found such packages were handled more roughly than those with no marked instructions.

If you've ever wondered what happens to your packages once they leave your hands, check out Popular Mechanics' infographic.

Tags: delivery, e-commerce

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  • Interesting article! I heard about this the other day but hadn't read the whole thing. Guess the quality of packaging really is important. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Since Fed- EX handles USPS mail transporting it kind of hard to tell who was handling the package at the time of recording unless it is time stamped



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