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Georgia Southern University

Atlanta ‘Super Hub’ Helps UPS Deliver Holiday Packages Faster


*Issam Moussaoui, Ph.D., assistant professor of logistics and supply chain management, is quoted in this article.

Around this time last year, Atlanta-based shipping giant UPS was running behind on deliveries: more than three million packages a day were arriving late.

In response, the company announced in that it would invest about $7 billion on new facilities. This included a new southeast regional “super hub” a mile away from the Fulton County Airport near the Six Flags theme park.

It’s about the size of 19 football fields and the outside looks like any other warehouse.

But inside, it’s a maze. Eighteen miles of conveyor belts are diagonally stacked above each other. Look up towards the ceiling and millions of packages zip past — faster than the blink of an eye.

The boxes are tagged with smart labels, which carry information like origin and destination. Then they race through multiple scanners, including one that looks like a red camera tunnel. Kim Krebs, a media relations manager with UPS, explained it’s also called a six-sided scanner, during a tour of the facility.

“Regardless of the positioning of the box and where that smart label with all that information of where the box needs to go is, you can get it on all sides,” Krebs said.

This is just one way UPS is trying to improve its on-time delivery rate. With smarter technology, more automation, and fewer people sorting by hand.

The Atlanta facility’s human resources director Chris Franzoni, said there are about 3,000 people who work here in four shifts. About 700 people work alongside the machines at one time.

“We have a day sort, a twilight, a midnight and a sunrise position,” Franzoni said. “So basically we have a 24-hour operation.”

Compared to all of the metal and cardboard at this facility, however, it can be a while before you see a human.

Cost Savings

More companies like UPS use automation to increase speed, make fewer mistakes and save money, said Issam Moussaoui, an assistant professor of logistics and supply chain management at Georgia Southern University.

“You can turn a machine on when needed and turn a machine off when not needed without much of a downside compared to human labor,” Moussaoui said.

It can take time to hire and train seasonal employees to meet the shipping rush during the holidays, Moussaoui said. But even as more companies like UPS move to more automation — it’s not always perfect. Moussaoui cites the electric car company Tesla.

“Midway through their implementation, they realized that there are still some aspects of the company’s production process that could be better done by people than by robots,” Moussaoui said.

It may be why many employees at the Atlanta UPS facility are on the ground floor, sorting through the large and irregular shaped packages passing by them at a slower speed on a conveyor belt.

Another place where humans play an important role is in the super hub’s master control room. At any time, about two dozen employees are watching 600 cameras and sensors. Dan Koozman is the control room manager for the daytime shift.

“By monitoring all the TVs up here, employees assist the operations down on the floor — giving them a heads up on heavy flow, and if there are jams where to move their people to keep it going,” Koozman said.

One of the software programs UPS customers uses is from ShipMatrix. The company’s president Satish Jindel, said the software helps companies track packages, and uses artificial intelligence to predict slowdowns and help major carriers to the right locations.

“If the packages show up in Baltimore, but you added drivers in Washington, you end up in trouble,” Jindel said. “You have enough drivers, but if they’re not in the right place, the guy in Washington cannot help the packages that are showing up in Baltimore.”

On-Time Deliveries

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, UPS officials said the company expects to deliver more than 800 million packages.

Jindel said, this year, there’s a good chance, packages might actually come when you’re expecting them.

“I think this is turning out to be a perfect year for [the Post Office, FedEx and UPS],” Jindel said. “It’s showing to us even in the way they are approaching the customers to give them confidence that if you have more packages you want to make more sales and promotions go ahead and do that. We are ready to handle your business.”

During the peak holiday season this year, UPS had a nearly 98 percent on-time delivery rate.

Editor’s Note: This report has been updated to reflect UPS customers use ShipMatrix software, not UPS itself.

College of Business Online Programs Recognized by U.S. News & World Report

The Georgia Southern University College of Business online graduate programs have been recognized again for excellence in rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

Among those recognized, the Georgia Southern online MBA placed in the top 50 of more than 260 schools ranked for the 2018 Best Online MBA Programs. U.S. News ranked online MBA programs using categories such as student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

The online MBA has been offered at Georgia Southern University since 2001, boasting high student satisfaction and graduation rates. The program is asynchronous, team-based and fully accredited by AACSB International. Students complete the fixed 30-credit hour curriculum in a time and location independent format in about 21 months.

In addition to the online MBA program being recognized, the College’s online graduate business programs, non-MBA, were ranked in the top 50 of more than 155 listed schools as U.S. News2018 Best Online Graduate Business Programs. Factors such as student engagement, faculty credentials, student services and technology, peer reputation and admissions selectivity are considered for the annual rankings.

The Georgia Southern College of Business offers non-MBA graduate business programs in accounting and applied economics. The Master of Accounting (MAcc) is offered on the Statesboro campus as well as online. Both MAcc programs are 30-credit hour programs which prepares students and accounting professionals for the Uniform CPA Exam. The Georgia Southern School of Accountancy holds a separate accreditation through AACSB International.

The Master of Science in Applied Economics (MSAE) program provides graduates with analytical capabilities in economic development, financial economics and regulatory issues. The program provides quantitative and analytical skills that will assist businesses in market analysis. Graduates compete for employment in financial institutions, industry and government enterprises engaged in financial economic development, public utilities, and federal and state regulatory agencies.

To learn more about the Georgia Southern graduate business programs, visit

Where Are The Retail Stores Going?

On Wednesday, May 10, John Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, discusses the economy and the decline of retail stores on GPB’s “On Second Thought,” hosted by Celeste Headlee.

Students compete in the fourth annual 3 Day Startup on campus

The Georgia Southern University Business Innovation Group (BIG) hosted the annual 3 Day Startup (3DS) February 24-26, with the final pitches delivered Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. in the Information Technology Building on campus. 3DS is a world-renowned, weekend-long program that creates a living entrepreneurship laboratory that brings together individuals from various backgrounds and provides students with the tools needed to start successful companies.

On the first day, participants arrive with their most promising ideas for new companies. Some bring pre-built technology that is waiting to be commercialized, while others bring napkins with ideas written on them. Throughout the weekend, participants shape and craft their innovations into pitches that are presented to a panel of judges and in front of a live audience.

This year’s 3DS facilitator from the Austin, Texas, program was Georgia native, Ellyson Glance. Glance helped students from all majors across the University prepare for the weekend as they gathered to create business ideas to develop. Six ideas were presented during final pitches, ranging from hair care products to digital shopping, and students worked with and received guidance from mentors throughout the weekend.

“This is by far my favorite event to organize for the students,” said Program Manager Suzanne Hallman. “It requires a lot of preparation, but the payoff is worth it. Every year we hear great ideas and see huge strides our students make over the weekend. I enjoy working with fellow Eagles and look forward to helping them launch their dreams right here at Georgia Southern.”

Ultimately, panelists chose “Whipp,” natural hair care products consisting of base cream and oils customized to each individual’s needs and “whipped” together by consultants, and “Easy Bustle,” a simple solution to complicated wedding dress bustling issues, as the most viable products to move on to participate in the FastPitch event in Savannah in April. FastPitch allows entrepreneurs to make a three minute pitch of their innovative venture and be assessed as to the viability of the ventures by local community leaders, academics, and investors. Coaching and feedback is provided before, during and after to better prepare presenters, their ideas and their presentations of that idea.

Other business ideas worked on throughout the weekend included:

  • FlashBack – glasses that record what “just happened” by using a cache so users can live in the moment and relive unforgettable moments
  • My Kid – a device that helps parents stay in range of kids to prevent losing them in crowded family theme parks and venues
  • Versity – an ecosystem for student entrepreneurs to connect with each other and the community to offer goods and services
  • Digital Shopper – groceries from the store delivered to the customer’s door via a fast and reliable service

This intensive weekend event was filled with activities including workshops, business idea generation, customer engagement sessions and pitching the ideas to the judges. 3DS is a collaborative event that encourages students to cross-pollinate, learning from each other.

“The Business Innovation Group creates this great opportunity for our students to get real experience with the development of ideas into business models, and the students love it,” said Steve Stewart, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management who teaches in the Entrepreneurship program. “It’s great when students get excited about seeing all their education come to life in real-world circumstance, and to have that validated by other mentors and judges … that’s always an important moment in the educational process, and ultimately will lead to students starting companies that create jobs.”

The Georgia Southern University BIG prides itself on its commitment to empower and equip entrepreneurs. 3DS is an example of the commitments BIG makes to create more businesses and jobs in order to sustain the economy. For more information, contact Suzanne Hallman, business advisor, at, or visit

Since its inception, 3DS has hosted more than 300 programs across six continents and has launched scores of startups, collectively raising millions of dollars in funding. Dozens of 3DS innovations are accepted into prestigious accelerator and incubator programs.

The event is provided at no cost to the students. BIG depends on sponsors like Coca Cola, Krispy Kreme, The Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, El Jalapeño, Little Italy, and The Clubhouse to help offset costs of meals and drinks for the weekend. This event would not be possible without BIG partnerships with the College of Business and the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology.

Georgia Southern team wins first place at NRF Foundation Competition

William (Keller) Campbell, Kathleen Gruben, KPMG Consultant Ali Wampler, Kelsey Wertz, Alexis Montaño and Jeffrey Licciardello walk the red carpet at the NRF Foundation GALA in New York City.

William (Keller) Campbell, Kathleen Gruben, KPMG Consultant Ali Wampler, Kelsey Wertz, Alexis Montaño and Jeffrey Licciardello walk the red carpet at the NRF Foundation GALA in New York City.

A team of Georgia Southern students received first place for the 2017 Student Challenge, a business case competition for National Retail Federation (NRF) Student Association members to demonstrate their creativity and business acumen to retail executives, sponsored by KPMG. The finalists attended the NRF Foundation GALA in New York City, where the top team was announced Jan. 15.

Jeffrey Licciardello, senior public relations major with a marketing minor, Kelsey Wertz, senior marketing and logistics major, William (Keller) Campbell, junior marketing and logistics major, and Alexis Montaño, junior marketing major with a management minor, worked together on the competition to create a 20-page pitch presentation, a mock website and a 90-second pitch video to convince STORY CEO and Founder, Rachel Shechtman, to bring their story to life through one of these themes: Travel, Sensory or Made in America. The proposal was created to provide an experience for the customer through selected merchandise, marketing approach, social media campaigns and curated events.

Kathleen Gruben, Ph.D., faculty advisor to the team, associate professor of marketing and director of the Center for Retail Studies at Georgia Southern, worked with the students every step of the way, including accompanying them to the GALA.

“The team of four was a dream team,” said Gruben. “They met every two weeks from the first week in May to the first week of classes. Then they worked together twice a week until the original submission. Throughout the process, the team took all criticism as positive and adapted accordingly. They addressed every minute criticism the judges gave. They were bound and determined they would win.”

Georgia Southern’s team was one of three teams to make it to the final round along with the University of North Texas and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Being on stage was absolutely nerve wracking,” said Licciardello. “Throughout the conference, we really got along with the other teams, so I knew I would be excited no matter who won — deep down in my gut I was anxious to hear the results. The competition was tough and the other teams had concepts that had their strong points. However, when Mark Larson from KPMG said the words ‘Georgia Southern,’ I was absolutely blown away by emotions and pride.”

“This project has been our baby since May,” added Wertz. “We worked extremely hard on it, always editing, revising and bringing new ideas to the table to make it better. Standing on stage and hearing our names called was so rewarding and gave proof that all of our hard work has paid off.”

Each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship along with having had the opportunity to present in front of nearly 780 retail CEOs and senior executives, industry insiders, celebrities and students and faculty from 80 other universities.

“Being able to show all of those celebrities and retail executives that the University from Statesboro could not only compete, but win, made working tirelessly throughout summer, fall semester and Christmas Break completely worth it,” said Licciardello. “I’ve never been more proud to be an Eagle.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 125 degree programs serving 20,674 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit

“To sit in a huge auditorium with hundreds of attendees, unexpectedly hear the Georgia Southern fight song, followed by “my” team entering the stage was overwhelming,” said/continued/added Gruben. “Tears rolled down my cheeks. They made a flawless presentation.”