Worldport: What Brown Does for Green

A look at the UPS Worldport facility and the investment in GSE that keeps the operation running.

“Each mechanic owns a fleet of around 50 tugs, or 14 loaders, or 40 GPUs. They’re responsible for that fleet, and all the maintenance on that fleet,” Jacob explains.

All mechanics have been certified in preventive maintenance inspections for their assigned type of vehicle. The maintenance area has a separate shop in which the time to complete a maintenance task is recorded and then figured into the overall scheduling.

To ensure the work is not interrupted, the company has an inventory of between $400,000 and $500,000 in parts value.

Environmental focus
UPS has been quite vocal about its intention to mitigate the environmental impact of its overall operations — recently announcing in its 2009 sustainability report that it aims to reduce the emissions of its delivery fleet 20 percent by 2020.

GSE has played no small part in the company’s environmental ambitions. To achieve company goals, electric loaders have been installed at each loading dock on the wings, along with 400 Hz power GPUs.

The company has also taken on the repowering of 92 tugs with cleaner gasoline engines through an EPA grant, a project that is still underway at Worldport.

UPS also began another repowering project in California, with more than 100 of its tugs getting repowered to newer, lower-emission gasoline engines, according to Jacob. UPS is also one of eight airlines that signed an agreement for the use of synthetic renewable diesel in its GSE at LAX when it becomes available sometime in 2012.

Believing the appearance of equipment is a reflection on the operation as a whole, UPS also performs paint and body repairs on its units to keep them looking good. In fact, one would likely not suspect the age of a tug in operation since the 1980s, except for its three-digit identification number.

Investment in employees
With operations running at a hectic pace at times, safety has remained a top priority. For GSE operators, the company has run an internal certification program, which is recurrent every three years.

Also, safe and secure practices have been ingrained in the working culture through daily activities, including the requirement that airside drivers honk twice at each stop. Every meeting held at the facility also begins with a “safety first” tip.

The company has also invested in its employees through internal promotions and an educational program that allows employees to pursue higher education. Some courses even take place on the Worldport grounds.

The investments made in ground support equipment and employees have played a critical part to the operation at Worldport, Jacob says. “It’s a very efficient facility,” Jacob says. “But you have got to feed it. That’s where GSE comes in. Without the people and equipment, the planes don’t fly.”

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