The Great Package Race

A student project sponsored by The Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Idea

How do packages actually get from sender to consignee? Each carrier has its own freight network through which a package travels and the experience of each package depends on the structure of the network.

For fun, we race packages from The Supply Chain & Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA (USA) to sites around the world via different international parcel carriers (UPS, Fedex, DHL, USPS). We choose locations to challenge the business processes of the multinational package carriers, then observe the results. It is remarkable that most packages eventually reach their destinations, even under difficult circumstances, but there have been some dramatic lapses. One package was carried back-and-forth across the Atlantic Ocean nine times before delivery. Another was sent to Costa Rica instead of Croatia. One carrier claimed that the destination country did not exist. (It does.)

There have been dramatic finishes as well. In 2006 UPS beat DHL to Croatia by 3 minutes. A race to Singapore ended in a tie when delivery folk from UPS and FedEx arrived at the door simultaneously, even though the packages had traveled completely different routes.

Each race has a theme and we will vary the theme so that one time we will ship, for example, to exotic locales, another time to centers of business, and another time to our mothers. (Send us your suggestions!)

Just like the Braves, UPS is the home team and we wish them well; but everyone plays by the same rules and we call 'em as we see 'em.

Disclaimer

The package race is not a careful business experiment. It is an event designed to stimulate student interest and to have fun. It may not be a reliable basis for choice of carrier.

No Georgia Tech funds are spent on this.

The 2017 Race

The Race is back! This year we sent books to school children in Namibia. Read about it here.

Past Races

Next Event

We welcome suggestions for subsequent competitions, where we will be sending a set of Georgia Tech baseball caps, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia somewhere in the world. If your parents or nephews or nieces would like a GT football jersey, send us an address, preferably with accompanying telephone number and email address. We ask only that the recipient document the delivery, preferably by sending us a digital photo. (Regrettably we cannot choose every suggested destination.)

Check out the companion event, The Great Container Race, in which we sent 40-foot shipping containers full of medical supplies by alternate routes and carriers to a hospital in Ghana.