UPS is in business to synchronize the world of global commerce. To that end, they deliver more than 15 million packages a day to more than 7 million customers traveling 3 billion miles per year. It’s a logistical ballet that relies heavily on an automotive fleet that numbers more than 100,000 vehicles.
Those vehicles range from what UPS calls “package cars,” the ubiquitous brown stepvans, to tractor trailers, with a very wide variety of vehicle types, brands and models. UPS also operates one of the nation’s largest fleets of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles.
Properly maintaining its massive fleet is critical to the company’s success, and it has recognized this since it plied the streets of Seattle with Model T’s in the early 1900s. Globally, UPS has some 5,000 technicians stationed at nearly 1,800 maintenance facilities.
Just as it has with its army of iconic brown-clad drivers, UPS has developed its own methods and procedures for the maintenance of its fleet. The company is increasingly using technology to capture vehicle data which is analyzed in order to make improvements in fleet maintenance and repair processes.
Regardless of how good any maintenance program is, it will not produce results if there are not capable and qualified technicians to do the work.
When recruiting technicians, there are specific things UPS looks for. Once hired, UPS has a highly structured methodology for training and development.
UPS has found that certain key criteria improves its success rate in hiring and retaining technicians, says Vic Mariano, the company’s corporate automotive training manager.
It looks for technicians who have most, if not all, of the following qualifications:
- A minimum of five years of heavy truck experience.
- Are experienced with computers, scan tools and diagnostic equipment.
- Are able to work various shifts, especially nights, because that is when repair and maintenance of much of the company’s fleet takes place.
- Have a commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record.
Technician certifications, such as ASE, are not required, but are a plus. So are college degrees and continuing studies. “Because we often promote from within at UPS, there are opportunities to move into management,” Mariano says, and notes that he started his career with the company 32 years ago as a technician.
Like others companies, UPS uses a host of methods to recruit technicians. All can be effective depending on each situation, he says. Most often, the strongest candidates have come from referrals from technicians who work at UPS.
The vehicle technician job at UPS is very structured, with assigned fleets and weekly work schedules that are planned by the supervisor and technician to ensure the work is prioritized properly to make the most efficient use of the technician’s time.
The foundation of UPS’s technician training is what it calls the Pre-Seniority Training Period - essentially a “try-out” for a technician to make the UPS team. It’s an extensive program that averages 45 days.
The Pre-Seniority Training Period is a well-defined process aimed at taking a new hire through several distinct elements of training. It begins with an “introduction” to the company and its history, then covers business conduct, procedures and policies at UPS.
Next comes safety training and regulatory compliance, which includes all applicable OSHA, DOT and EPA rules and regulations. “Safety and safety training is paramount and ongoing at UPS,” Mariano says.
When safety and regulatory compliance training are complete, managers start to evaluate a new technician’s skills and qualifications. Progress reviews are done weekly throughout the training period.
These reviews are very important to let the technician know how they are progressing, as well as to review positive points and areas the technician may need to focus on.
Prevent accidents by promoting safety awareness.