Logistics Carriers Should Envision an Image Enabled Supply Chain

ATDC round table

At Smart Gladiator, we work continuously to improve our product. As part of that exercise, we recently decided to install a sensor in our product. Having finalized a product choice on the sensor, we ordered it from the vendor who was glad to send us the devices through UPS. We wanted to install, test, and deploy them to a customer as soon as possible.

We are a technology company located in the heart of Atlanta, within the Georgia Tech campus, part of this Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) that the state of Georgia supports. We work in a big building that house several companies like us. All of these companies go through a vetting process that verifies that they strive for innovation. Most are working to commercialise technology developed at the university by professions involved in cutting edge technology. Many dignitaries stop by our building and we get to participate in discussions with them.

Caption: At a round table meeting with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Mayor Kasim Reed at the ATDC.

This location is famously called the Tech Square. In addition to small innovative companies, the areas home to innovation centers of much bigger conglomerates such as Home Depot, Coca Cola, Southern Company, and most recently NCR. I say all this to make it clear: I am not in the middle of nowhere. I am right in the heart of a major metropolitan area.

Despite that, I struggle to receive a shipment through UPS to our office. There is a clear protocol. If we are not in the office, the delivery person should leave the package on the third floor mailroom (one floor up from our offices). However, it often doesn’t happen. Remember those sensors we ordered? The vendor overnighted these critical components to us and yet it was not delivered to our office nor to the mailroom. On that day, we stepped out of the office for an hour to take care of some business and missed the shipment. On our return, we were greeted with the familiar UPS notice on the door.


I checked with the administration folks in the building. They reported that, although other carrier services had delivered packages to the mailroom, that UPS had a reputation for being less than consistent in following the procedure. I called UPS and found that I had three options to get my delivery:

  • Pay an extra $7 to have the package left at a UPS Access Point location close to my office.
  • Receive the delivery the next day.
  • Pick it the package personally from customer services center about a 30 minutes drive from my office.

I chose option #3. I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would be returned by the delivery to the center before it closed at 9pm.

UPS told me that they would call me with an update in an hour. After more than an hour, I called to check the status. They told me to wait another hour. At 6:30, I was no closer to knowing the fate of my package. I posted my dilemma on the UPS Facebook page and heard a similar story from another entrepreneur in the area. The UPS team monitoring the page also responded, but didn’t solve the problem.

By 7:30, I start home to get dinner and when I walk in my door, I find an email saying that I can pick up the package in the morning since the center will be closed. I call UPS again—and they promise to call me in the morning. To make a long story a little shorter: I finally got to pick up my important package from the distant customer service center at 1PM on the second day.

Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. So far, Smart Gladiator Wearables have been used to ship, receive, and scan more than 50 million boxes. Users love them for the lightweight, easy-to-use soft overlay keyboard and video chatting ability, data collection ability etc. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 17 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at www.smartgladiator.com. Also follow him at www.pugasankara.com.

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