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Transforming transportation: Innovation at FedEx

FedEx was built on a new combination of existing ideas that turned us into the original logistics disruptor.

When we began operations in 1973, our innovative hub-and-spoke system was uniquely developed to deliver overnight express packages to any and all points on our network by a certain time. FedEx originated the first real-time, package tracking because we knew that information about the package was as important as the package itself.

Why is innovation important? Because things are always changing. In this click-driven world, new becomes old very fast. Traditional solutions won’t work in new circumstances, but recombining existing ideas often can.

Now, over 40 years later, FedEx stands at the nexus of the virtual and physical world and is still building on the benefits that innovation and technology bring. Our purpose as a company is to connect people with possibilities, and we know technology helps us do that in a big way.

– Frederick W. Smith (Excerpts of 2017 speech to the Council on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis. Watch clips or read the entire speech.)


On the move: Recent FedEx innovations

New feeder aircraft innovations will make air freight shipping faster and easier to smaller markets. Delivering freight to smaller markets is challenging: Current small aircraft aren’t equipped for palletized freight. FedEx worked closely with manufacturers to develop small planes with larger doors and new interior configurations to accommodate freight containers and pallets. Learn more about the new Cessna and ATR planes and an innovative pilot training program they’re fueling.
Design thinking is a proven concept that, at its core, is about discovering needs and fulfilling them using rapid prototyping and testing. FedEx uses a design- thinking methodology called Customer-Driven Design to identify unmet customer needs and bring solutions to market faster. Read more about design thinking and CDD in Access magazine.
Blockchain holds significant potential for advancing supply chain logistics (watch FedEx CIO Rob Carter explain). FedEx is a charter member in the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance as well as the Blockchain Research Institute. And FedEx Freight has a pilot project under way using blockchain to share shipment information among suppliers, FedEx and retailers.
Vehicle autonomy is about more than driverless cars. Autonomous tuggers transport bulky packages through FedEx Ground hub facilities — see them in action. And FedEx Freight uses elements of autonomy technology — telematics, collision mitigation, lane departure and roll stability — to make roads and drivers safer.
Robots work alongside humans at FedEx, taking care of repetitive, simple tasks so team members can focus on high-value, skilled work. For example, a robot used by FedEx TechConnect at FedEx Office in Manhattan navigates the office, transporting equipment in need of repair. See this innovation and more in our Tech Minute video series.

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