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Technological Innovation at FedEx

Federal Express was among the first express transportation companies to realize the benefits of technology. As early as 1978, just five years after it began operations, the company pioneered the first automated customer service centre.

To provide real-time package tracking for each shipment, FedEx uses one of the world's largest computer and telecommunications networks. The company's couriers operate SuperTracker® hand-held computers, to record the transit of shipments through the FedEx integrated network.

FedEx's use of technology focuses on the customer, rather than merely on remaining competitive. With FedEx, businesses can determine the status of their packages at all possible locations along the delivery route in real time. Customers can track packages in three ways: via the FedEx Web site on the Internet, by using FedEx Ship Manager at fedex.com, or FedEx WorldTM Shipping Software.

To provide the time-definite service customers have come to rely on, FedEx is continually developing innovative technologies. The following examples illustrate why FedEx remains the leader in the express cargo transportation industry.

COSMOS (Customer Operations Service Master On-line System) is a computerized package tracking system that monitors every phase of the delivery cycle at Federal Express. FedEx employees constantly input information into COSMOS by several means.

Customer service representatives enter shipping information into COSMOS through computer terminals, alerting the dispatcher closest to the pick-up or delivery area. Dispatchers relay pick-up and delivery information to the courier via DADS, small digitally assisted dispatch computer systems found in all courier vans.

Hand-held computers, called SuperTrackers, are used to scan the progress of the package an average of 5 times from pick-up to delivery. Couriers simply scan the bar code on every waybill with their SuperTracker, at every stage of the delivery process. Scans are performed at time of pick-up, on arrival at the origin station, at the final station, when placed on the van of the courier's route and at delivery. SuperTrackers retain and transmit package information such as destination, routing instructions and the type of service requested.

Once a courier returns to the van, the information is downloaded from the SuperTracker to DADS, which updates the package location in the COSMOS system. Thus, a customer can find out at any time exactly where their package is and when they can expect delivery, whether they call Customer Service or track the package themselves on the FedEx Web site or using FedEx Ship software.

Constant tracking allows Federal Express to maintain positive control over shipments every step of the way. It is so integral a part of the system that FedEx promises to deliver all packages within one minute of the delivery commitment or the customer does not pay. The company also offers a second guarantee that is unique to the industry: if a customer cannot be told exactly where their package is, within 30 minutes of their inquiry, FedEx will pay the transportation costs of the package.

From COSMOS and tracking to service guarantees, the Federal Express network is designed to provide 100% customer satisfaction.

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Command and Control is the satellite to ground-level operations system, based at the Memphis SuperHub, that enables FedEx to deliver packages by the fastest, safest and surest route, in any weather condition. It is a relational database that coordinates FedEx logistics worldwide. In fact, Command and Control is the largest UNIX undertaking in the commercial world. The system uses satellite and computer communications technology to monitor routing and traffic information in real time and acts as a weather management tool.

When weather may disrupt on-time delivery, FedEx uses NASA weather data and artificial intelligence to plot alternative routes. The system provides the three best alternative transportation options for a shipment, which allows the company to select the fastest, safest and most cost-effective route.

By connecting to over 750 customer service workstations, over 500 aircraft and traffic hubs around the world, the Command and Control system ensures the smooth coordination of inbound and outbound aircraft and thousands of delivery vehicles.

Although invisible to the customer's eye, Command and Control is one of the company's most important technological developments, allowing FedEx to deliver packages on time, every time.

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In May 1997, FedEx launched the APEC Tariff Database, a new, Internet-based customs and trade database designed to expedite global commerce. Located on the Internet at www.apectariff.org, the tariff database is available to anyone with access to the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The tariff database was developed by Federal Express Corporation at the request of the United States Department of Commerce.

The tariff database project was initiated by the Australian Customs Service in 1994 in response to the APEC Ministers' need for a common source of information explaining the various countries' customs requirements and tariffs. However, in 1995, the APEC Tariff Database Task Force concluded that because of the requirement for an accessible source of data, the information should be located on a World Wide Web site.

The APEC Tariff Database is the only source of consolidated tariff and customs-related information on the 18 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. It is an extraordinary example of inter-governmental and private sector co-operation and is a large step towards furthering APEC's objective of trade liberalization.

The APEC Tariff Database was announced in Montreal at the APEC Customs and Industry Symposium during Canada's Year of Asia-Pacific.

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There are 46 call centres across the globe handling over 500,000 telephone calls daily. FedEx Russia's Web site on the Internet is another technological advance increasing customer convenience and reducing the need to phone Customer Service. Customers can access information and track their packages at their own convenience. Although these technological developments allow Federal Express to provide prompt and easy-to-access service, customers who prefer the "personal touch", or who require more in-depth information, can still speak to a call centre representative.

Providing the accurate and efficient service customers demand is crucial to the success of the express transportation business. To carry on its tradition of increasing customer convenience and satisfaction, FedEx will continue to pursue improvements to the technology used in its call centres.

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