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To Handle E-Commerce Load, UPS Delivers Temp Sorting Centers

UPS is using 15 "mobile distribution centers" around the U.S. to make sure holiday packages don't arrive late by the thousands like they did in 2013, Bloomberg News reported.

The temporary aluminum-walled sorting centers are set up in employee parking lots next to permanent UPS sorting facilities, and boost package-sorting capacity by about 40 percent in UPS's busiest metro areas. The shipping giant needs the extra capacity; due largely to increases from e-commerce, UPS expects shipping volumes during six days in December to outstrip its single busiest shipping day of 2014.

"It all goes back to 585 million packages in the month of December," said UPS spokesman Dan Cardillo. "It's a lot more packages than we usually handle."

Last year UPS made $50 million in refunds after bad weather and a rush of last-minute online orders meant it missed on-time deliveries for thousands of shipments. As a result, the company moved up plans for $500 million in capital projects and added another $175 million in operating expenses to the peak-season budget. This year UPS has hired 95,000 seasonal workers to sort and deliver packages, more than the peak-season hiring done by Amazon and Macy's, and increased the number of temporary sorting centers from one last year to 15 in 2014.

Monday (Dec. 22) was expected to be UPS's busiest day of 2014, with 34 million deliveries. But the temporary centers won't be broken down until sometime in January. "The peak holiday deliveries will be done, but the returns pick up right away," Cardillo said.

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