IF DRA Fails?

Discussion in 'FedEx Discussions' started by MrFedEx, May 15, 2013.

  1. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    Do you think that the MFs in MEM will admit for one millisecond that THEY made a huge freaking mistake, and stepped on their collective Johnson so hard that it will need several reconstructive surgeries to bring it back to life? Not a chance. They'll blame us, create more inane Policies and Procedures that only make sense to a lifer in the state asylum, and double-down on the discipline.

    Hey Fred!! Double FU, and you deserve the stupid housewives and fresh-off-the-boat types who will be delivering your precious packages and effing it up so badly that Jesus will need to grant you TWO miracles to save it.

    I am laughing my ass off at you fools. You'll eff-up Ground too. Count on it, Memphoid scum. Go count your money Yale Boy. Oh, and call-in your politicians to save your sorry ass one more time when it all goes South.
  2. UpstateNYUPSer

    UpstateNYUPSer Very proud grandfather.

    If DRA fails.....they will tweak it until they get it right. There is too much money invested to this point to simply scrap it.

    We had major issues when PAS/EDD was first introduced (some would say we still do)---it has since become an invaluable tool and I for one would have a hard time going "old school".
  3. Cactus

    Cactus Just telling it like it is

    Then they'll be spending the next twenty years tweaking it.
  4. Ricochet1a

    Ricochet1a New Member

    DRA can't fail - Express has bet the farm on the concept.

    What the problem is.... is the "Dynamic' part of DRA.

    DRA has two conflicting parameters working at the same time:

    1) an attempt to 'dynamically' balance route loads based on time predictions to complete ALL routes (all routes balanced)

    2) differential time commitments present in Express service (PO, SOS, Deferred)

    What many stations are doing in order to minimize the mess, is to revert to SRA (Static Route Assignment). The software does the stop ordering, but doesn't attempt to balance route volumes.

    What the engineers already know, is that Express has a wide 'variance' in volumes of P1. Some routes can vary by as much as 30% in daily P1 volume (static assignment). This plays havoc with route planning - thus the concept of 'dynamic' balancing of routes.

    The problem occurs when the software tries to balance P1 - then it defaults to assigning P2 that is covered in the area 'footprint' of P1 to the same route. So a route can be 'balanced' for P1, but then go out 'light' in P2 (there was a lot of P1 in a small area, so the software only assigns P2 to that route using the same 'boundaries' that were used for P1). This leaves routes balanced for P1, but with a wide differential in P2 volume. This isn't acceptable, since it leaves routes finishing early, while others incur overtime to get their volume off. Then if a route is slammed with P2 and has pickups.... you have all seen the mess.

    The software was designed with 'paper routing' in mind - they are having fits trying to get it to work with the different time commitments of Express.

    As I said before (and has been attested to by others here), is that Express is ADDING part-time employees for the SOLE purpose of ensuring service is made while DRA is ironed out. These 'extra' employees are added to loops, to basically take any predicted 'overflow' in P1 volumes, to ensure very few pieces end up with service failures.

    The engineer I know has already stated to me that IF DRA cannot be adequately implemented in the next year (in the stations that are already using it), they will revert to SRA and continue on that path. With SRA, the stop ordering is done, the only real difference is that route boundaries aren't 'dynamically shifted' to balance between routes in a loop. Route boundaries are more or less fixed under SRA, and what is done, is have managers do the old fashioned stop count, and rebalance routes the old fashioned way if a route is overwhelmed with P1. They want to get away from this (less management footprint - again, wrote on this in March and way back last year), and have managers not focusing on route balancing, but more on Courier management. With spans of control approaching 20 Couriers per ops manager - ops managers CANNOT be going around fine tuning each route before the trucks leave the building each day, simply cannot be done.

    He has also commented that Express may end up in creating positions which would act to 'oversee' the software. People would come in late at night (once the computer system has all the volume to be delivered the next day in system), to review each route assignment, then manually make adjustments to routes to ensure no problems arise. HOWEVER, this would be a costly solution to solve a problem which the computer software is SUPPOSEDLY designed to do in the first place.

    This gets back to the real 'root' of the problem: Express is trying to simultaneously slash management expense (fewer managers, resulting in MORE Couriers per manager), while making the need for experienced Couriers obsolete - conflicting goals, Express is trying to have and eat its cake at the same time, nothing new for Express.

    Express KNOWS that with the wages they are offering combined with no pay progression (they have realized with the 2013 SFA that the employees have FINALLY caught on to the fact that they won't ever see any real pay progression from this point forward - only took the wage employees about 4 years to realize this fact...), that the 'middle' of Courier force (between 6 and 17 years in), is gradually disappearing. The Courier force is taking on the characteristics of two separate groups (in capability, commitment, and compensation): the topped out 20+ year Courier, and the bottomed out Courier with less than 5 years in. Each year, the number of topped out Couriers become less and less (retirement), to be replaced by an ever growing pool of rapidly turning over Couriers who do the job for a few years then leave.

    Express KNOWS that in order to maintain some level of service (in light of the fact of the increasing numbers of unmotivated, high turnover, low experience Couriers), that they MUST implement DRA in order to take all the thinking out of the Courier job and make it strictly an exercise of 'connect the dots' (follow stop ordering). Thus what you as a Courier are seeing.

    Will DRA fail? Highly doubtful. Express knows that once they make the career Courier obsolete, they can get by with Couriers with less than 5 years in, and save (by some estimates), $250 MILLION a year in wage and benefit expenses compared to having a Courier force with 'balance' in progression. Look at Ground, and you will see the future of Express, I've said it before.

    With a potential annual savings of $250 MILLION a year at stake - Express will go to virtually ANY length to make DRA succeed. Don't plan on it failing as a replacement for taking action to protect your 'career'. I know you as a collective whole AREN'T taking any action right now...., so it is rather pointless for me to suggest that you are doing something to thwart Express' actions towards your 'career'.

    Plan on DRA eventually working. That is a hell of a lot more likely to happen than the Couriers getting their act together and actually organizing.
  5. HuckToohey

    HuckToohey You are entering a world of pain.

    DRA is a tool to eventually be able to hire "millennium" age employees right off the street. Since the work ethic Express was founded upon has been lost over the last 15 years, these new employees who don't posses the attitude to nor the drive to jump through the myriad of hoops Express drivers do on a daily basis, will rotate in and out of the company at a high rate. With just a basic understanding of procedures, these folks can be handed their DRA readout, assigned a van and go. Once they quit to the endless BS that Express is, they can be replaced quickly.
  6. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    Not suggesting that DRA failing is going to save "careers", because that's long gone anyway. Right now, it seems to be failing miserably and it is starting to look like they will have to go to ANY length to make this turd work. I sincerely hope they waste huge amounts tweaking it until they get it right, which could take years.

    Right on the money with the "conflicting goals" statement. I think this ensures that things will be severely effed-up for some time to come. This is also makes it unlikely that Fred will be able to realize the $1.7B in savings he has promised Wall Street. So sorry, Fred.

    Unfortunately, you are absolutely correct about the union movement. Lots of talk, and very little action among the sheep. It amazes me how passive, weak, and clueless the average Express employee is...willingly led to shearing, and eventually...slaughter.
  7. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    Maybe PAS/EDD is a better program, created and run by IT and Engineering staff that actually have a clue? DRA is deeply flawed, and IMO, they will never realize the cost savings projected for the program.

    One major factor you are ignoring is that PAS/EDD was implemented with professional, career-track drivers, and even then, it was problematic. At FedEx, you're talking about people far less qualified, motivated, or capable. That's a huge difference.
  8. Route 66

    Route 66 Throbbing Member

    sad, but true... there did seem to be a brief span of time (shortly after the "no raises til maybe October") announcement, where there seemed to be some evidence of an "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore" movement beginning to emerge. But soon the shoulders shrugged and everyone slipped right back into their "hey, it is what it is and I really kinda like the taste of Costco hot dogs anyway" mode.
  9. I was a cover driver in a test market for PAS/EDD back in early mid 2000's. Even then UPS was light years ahead of what we're experiencing with DRA right now. What we have with DRA is a huge joke compared to what big Brown rolled out 9 years ago. My centers biggest gripe about PAS was that it didn't recognize suite numbers in multiple floor buildings. Like most things at FedEx, the technology is flawed and inadequate.
  10. I'm guilty of slipping back into the mindset. I figure if they're going to pay me like a damn new hire I might as well act like one! Sometimes I forget where streets are and deliver packages to the wrong places. I've also been driving really slow lately. I'm not used these large trucks now that I'm a pretend new hire again.
  11. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    Everybody needs to think this way. Perform as if you mean nothing (you don't) and as if you are severely underpaid (you are).
  12. Rhoderunner

    Rhoderunner Active Member

    SRA does not put the work load in stop order. (not in my place anyway) It list the stops alphabetically. It is barely a step above 'old school'. The only advantage is being able to see the stop totals for the day and have a list of the stops A to Z. I'm afraid DRA is going to be made to work whatever the cost. Not to optimistic about Oct raises.
  13. thedownhillEXPRESS

    thedownhillEXPRESS Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking this way since the pension takeaway.
  14. Ricochet1a

    Ricochet1a New Member

    I called the engineer I occasionally talk to regarding DRA etc., and you are correct, SRA currently DOESN'T do stop ordering - only route assignment. Previously he was speaking 'ahead' of what is current, and I assumed he was speaking of current capability.

    If DRA turns to be an intractable mess, the 'talk' is to enhance SRA to have stop ordering capability. This would only occur if DRA simply is overloaded with the conflicting goals of route balancing AND stop ordering the differing service levels (PO, SOS, Deferred). What would happen, is that DRA would have the 'dynamic' part disabled, and merely be used to generate stop ordering with 'fixed' route boundaries.

    This is what I'm thinking will eventually happen, fixed route boundaries will be accepted as being necessary (for the next few years), then the capability to generate stop ordering will be used and routes will have volume pulled off of them if they exceed a certain number of P1 and/or P2 stops.

    If Express decides to pull the trigger on shifting of deferred volume over to Ground, the problems of DRA would more or less solve themselves. The software can easily handle only worrying about balancing P1, then any SOS that happens to be thrown onto a route can EASILY be gotten off in time (in the absence of deferred volume being present in the Express delivery system).

    From what I was told (and from what I can see), I do think a 'modified' version of DRA will be implemented (basically SRA WITH stop ordering). The reason for my line of thinking, is due to the combination of the reality being faced by engineering AND the reality attempting to be imposed by Express senior level management to get something to work and get it to work quickly.

    Express doesn't talk publicly about the issues with DRA, but internally, it IS the future of DGO. They are banking on it, since they KNOW full well that getting and retaining quality people in the face of the reality of the wages and wage progression they are offering will become impossible.

    Posters have repeatedly come up stating that they are seeing a 'crop' of part-time Couriers being brought into their station - when they can't really explain it., The reason has to due with DRA and the need to 'throw personnel at the problem' until they solve the problem.
  15. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    What happens to all the new people once they have it figured out? Just toss them out? From what I have been seeing, PM Ops are in free fall because DRA doesn't "consider" the pickup cycle, which causes huge problems with Dispatch, and most of the new couriers are worthless, at least for now. Our station is sending untrained new hires on the road to do pickups every day...with predictable results. And I think you're right that the switchover to Ground might be accelerated in order to mitigate the DRA disaster. This would explain the current move of Ground hiring temporary drivers through temp agencies.
  16. Mr. 7

    Mr. 7 The monkey on the left.

    Oh baby!
    Dusting off the ole' "2 day and E3 is gonna switch over to ground" chestnut again. I love it.
  17. MrFedEx

    MrFedEx Engorged Member

    It's "Solid Gold". I do think it's going to be happening...very soon.
  18. Mr. 7

    Mr. 7 The monkey on the left.

    Gold just went down.
  19. thedownhillEXPRESS

    thedownhillEXPRESS Well-Known Member

  20. Ricochet1a

    Ricochet1a New Member

    Between the natural attrition that is taking place right now and a certain amount of these new hires quitting in short order (once they figure out their job won't just be delivering docs and FedEx boxes...), Express won't have any problems. They are anticipating enough turnover to prevent having a handful getting minimums with nothing to do once they've served their purpose.

    In all reality, a part-time Courier that is young (no health insurance costs - Express is self insured), only costs Express about $20,000 a year. In the greater scheme of things, this is chump change. Train them up to work DRA, some will quit, some will take the routes that currently exist when those Couriers have had enough. The actual cost when everything is balanced out across a station to get DRA ironed out and prevent service failures is minimal. Hell, they are spending $600 MILLION to get rid of the Memphis dead weight. Spending $100,000 per typical station in additional personnel expense is nothing (depending on assumptions one uses, this will cost Express between $40 and $60 MILLION to perform across all stations nationwide). It's not like they are paying union wages and benefits to these people....

    In the greater scheme of things, even paying $100 MILLION to perfect DRA, will ensure that Express will be able to save that $250 MILLION EACH YEAR afterwards in terms of not needing experienced Couriers any longer. In terms of cash flow and return on investment, it is a no-brainer - get the program to work, then tell the current Couriers (in so many words), "F... Off!!".

    As far as the switchover.... they want to have DRA 'perfected' before they even think about it. They know damn good and well once they announce the shiftover, the topped out idiots will see the light and change their tune towards organizing real quick. This is why the 'damn the torpedoes' push to get DRA implemented and functioning to a certain degree of proficiency.

    I had a friend send me yet another manifest and mapping for a DRA route this AM. It was for today, May 17th. He went ahead and sent me the RTB time of the route in question this PM (to compare to the predicted, "planned return building time") - and it was only off by a few minutes.

    I took a look at the area (it is for an area I'm roughly familiar with), and I could EASILY follow it and get off volume. I did notice there was what appeared to be some backtracking in the stop ordering (by following the trace, it is obvious that some U turns would be involved, and there are some instances of crossing back and forth across a busy multilane state highway). It DEFINITELY isn't as good as an experienced Courier, BUT it isn't intended to be. It breaks out stops that are at the same address (but different suites) quite logically. For instance, if "Stop 18" has multiple suites in it, the manifest has them listed in order: 18, 18.2, 18.3, 18.4, etc, etc.

    I, yes I, after being out for almost 3 years and the last time I ran a delivery route was during peak 2009, could've shown up to the station in question, pulled the freight, placed it in stop order (with no assistance), hit the road and got the volume off with productivity of between 85-90% of that of an experienced Courier who regularly runs the route. The stop sequencing print out has the stops in order, with number of docs and boxes, along with intended recipient. All I'd have to do (being a clueless drone at this stage), would be to have 2 clipboards with me - one in the cab that has the map plot of the stops, another in the cargo area that has the piece count per stop, and I could run the route WITHOUT having been taken out on the route before hand. This is why I say that DRA (once a route has all of its issues ironed out), ACCOMPLISHES WHAT EXPRESS INTENDS FOR IT.

    Once a station's routes have been correctly adjusted for DRA, that station could literally, bring in a fresh crop of Couriers who are trained in DRA procedure, RANDOMLY assign each to a route, send them out and get some decent productivity. Now admittedly, the first day, there would be issues. But if the same new hire Courier was to run the same route for a month, by the beginning of the 2nd week they'd be at 85-90% productivity, by the end of the month, I'd wager they'd be at 95% of productivity of an experienced Courier.

    Do you all see where this is going for Express - it is plain as day to me...

    You may be thinking (as an experienced Courier), "What about customer service"?

    Express no longer cares about Couriers delivering customer service!!!! Just look at the call centers, just look at Ground.

    ‚ÄčIf customers want service, they are instructed to call the 1-800 number or their sales agent. The Courier isn't required to think in the 'new' Express - the Courier is merely to get the pieces delivered or picked up from the correct location and move to the next 'dot on the map' on time. And yes, with DRA plotting and time estimations, there is NO TIME for 'customer service', there is only time to get to the next stop, get the pieces, drop them, get a signature if needed and run. Package Jockey 101.