UPS (United Parcel Service)

UPS (United Parcel Service)

UPS (United Parcel Service of America, Inc.) is a global U.S. courier express parcel service company. It is nicknamed the Big Brown, by allusion to the color of the uniform of the employees. Its headquarters are in Sandy Springs (Georgia), a suburb of Atlanta in the United States.

Name UPS
Full Name United Parcel Service of America, Inc.
Creation date August 28, 1907
Head office location Sandy Springs, Georgia,
United States
CEO name Carol Tomé
Legal form Corporation
ISIN US9113121068
Number of employees 536,000 (2022)
Revenue US$100.3 billion (2022)
Sector Distribution, logistics

History of UPS

The company was founded on August 28, 1907, in Seattle as the American Messenger Company by James E. Casey and renamed United Parcel Service in 1919.  On August 16, 1976, it opened its first branch outside the USA opposite today’s Rheinparkcenter in Neuss. As a result, it became a direct competitor of the then Deutsche Bundespost, the transport companies Kuehne + Nagel and Dachser, and Schenker & Co., a major freight forwarder of the then Deutsche Bundesbahn. Since April 2018, Sportolari has also been President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany for short). On September 15, 1986, the European air hub was established at Cologne/Bonn Airport.

In the USA, around 80,000 so-called parcel men were employed by UPS in 1976  and delivered around three million parcels a day. Revenue was $1.6 billion. Since November 10, 1999, shares of the company have been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Annual revenue in the first year of the IPO was about $27.05 billion. Since 2003, the company has been using its new sign logo with the abbreviation UPS as its (core) brand. The long form “United Parcel Service” will continue to be used as a brand and company name.

In 2001, UPS failed in the last instance before the Berlin Court of Appeal in an attempt to prohibit the Stuttgart-based consumer protection association Aktion Bildungsinformation from linking the company to Scientology. The association had previously publicly reported that Scientology was using its cooperation with UPS to increase its influence on the economy. The court also allowed the association to continue to align UPS’s management techniques with Scientology methods, as well as to spread the statement that UPS had deliberately donated money to pro-Scientology politicians in the United States.

On March 19, 2012, the corporation announced its intention to buy TNT Express for 5.16 billion euros, but this takeover bid was abandoned in January 2013 due to the unfavorable opinion of the European Commission, which saw adverse effects on competition.

In 2015, UPS acquired Chicago-based truck freight broker Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion, which it had already contracted as a subcontractor during peak seasons in previous years after UPS had been harshly criticized for delivery delays in the holiday season; Founded in 2006, Coyote works with 35,000 trucking companies and generated $2.1 billion in revenue in 2014.

The company


Today, the company is one of the largest logistics companies in the world. The German branch of the company operates under the name United Parcel Service Deutschland S.A R. L. & Co. OHG.

UPS generated $100.3 billion in revenue globally in fiscal 2022 and employed 536,000 people worldwide.

United Parcel Service is headquartered in Atlanta; the European headquarters are located in Brussels. In Germany, the operational business is separated from the strategic management. Therefore, the German administrative headquarters of United Parcel Service Deutschland S.A.R.L. & Co. OHG is located in Neuss. The managing company and the strategy department were relocated from Neuss to Monheim am Rhein in 2016.

Subsidiaries of UPS


UPS SCS is headquartered in Schwaig at Munich Airport. It also has offices at all major logistics hubs around the world. She is responsible for logistics in the family of companies. The main focus of the service portfolio is pallet transport. Following the restructuring of the corporate structure in 2009/2010, UPS-SCS operates primarily in the segments of air and sea freight as well as contract logistics; Among other things, the existing infrastructure of UPS is used. UPS-SCS thus complements the parent company’s courier, parcel and express (CEP) services with services such as import and export processing as well as value-added services.

UPS Transportation

This subsidiary operates in the background and transports the parcels collected by the small parcel trucks during the day by means of feeders and swap bodies, primarily at night. In the early hours of the morning, all parcel vans throughout Germany are supplied with the parcels to be delivered for a given day via feeders. In addition, the pick-up area (collection from major customers) within UPS Transport is becoming increasingly important at UPS.

UPS Automotive

UPS Automotive, like UPS Transport, is a subsidiary that operates in the background. Without it, UPS would also not be operational, because it takes over the maintenance of the fleet. In almost every center there is a workshop of the company.

UPS Airlines

The subsidiary UPS Airlines is a cargo airline that is responsible for all air transportation of United Parcel Service. UPS Airlines operates one of the largest air cargo fleets in the world and currently has a fleet of 275 aircraft (as of January 2023).

UPS fleet (in 2023)
Types of planes Number of planes
Airbus A300-600RF 50
Boeing 747-400BDSF 2
Boeing 747-400F 11
Boeing 747-8 26
Boeing 757-200PF 70
Boeing 767-300ERF 81
MD-11F 35
Total 275

Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) until May 2009

MBE is a company that was established autonomously and acquired over time by UPS. In the meantime, all shares have been sold to the Italian Fineffe Group. MBE continues to be a cooperation partner of UPS and offers various services such as outsourcing, shipping service, packaging service, graphics and printing service, mailing service or mailbox services.

UPS vehicle fleet

UPS cargo bike in Hambourg
UPS cargo bike in Hambourg
UPS on the Grand Canal in Venice
UPS on the Grand Canal in Venice
P600 UPS delivery van based on the Mercedes-Benz Vario
P600 UPS delivery van based on the Mercedes-Benz Vario
UPS Airlines Airbus A300
UPS Airlines Airbus A300
Delivery truck P1000 based on Vario
Delivery truck P1000 based on Vario
UPS delivery truck P45
UPS delivery truck P45
Emission-free electric test vehicle from Modec
Emission-free electric test vehicle from Modec
Special development P800 by Grumman Olson
Special development P800 by Grumman Olson

Typical of the United Parcel Service are the distinctive delivery vans in the company color “Pullman brown”. The color brown as a typical distinguishing feature of the company came about in 1919 for two reasons. On the one hand, the dark brown of the Pullman railroad cars was synonymous with quality and luxury in the USA, and on the other hand, you simply did not see the dust of the roads so clearly on the brown cars. What is less well known, however, is that the United Parcel Service painted its first delivery vehicles in completely different colors to demonstrate that they had more than one.

In Europe, the delivery vehicles are custom-made products based on various European commercial vehicle manufacturers. Since some vehicle manufacturers have been offering vans with an elevated seating position and passage to the cargo area, UPS has also been buying “off-the-shelf” vehicles in some cases. The vehicle fleet ranges from silver-grey road trains (feeders) to small cars (Renault Kangoo) and scooters (BMW C1) for express deliveries and internal distribution trips. Bicycles are also used in some city centers. In some parts of the world, their own boats are also used for parcel delivery, including Venice.

In the internal designation of UPS vehicles, P stands for  Parcelvehicle (= parcel vehicle) and the following two-digit number for the volume (three-digit numbers are usually older variants). There are different variants of vehicles, below are only model examples:

  • P10 – Ford Escort with box body (< 2.8 t GVW)
  • P45 – Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with box body and racks (< 3.5 t GVW)
  • P600 – Mercedes-Benz Variowith box body and shelves (old model) (< 7.5 t GVW)
  • P800 – Mercedes-Benz with box body and racks (< 7.5 t GVW)
  • 814 – 7.5 t for pallets with tail lift (< 7.5 t GVW)
  • P1000 – extended version of the P600 (< 7.5 t GVW)

UPS technologies

Delivery Information and Acquisition Device (DIAD)

DIAD is an electronic delivery directory for recording delivery, pick-up and communication with the center. The deliverer also uses it for daily billing and as a time card. Model V has been in use since the beginning of July 2012, the Model IV is partly used as a replacement or as a helper board.

Global Scanning System (GSS)

GSS is responsible for fast and mostly wireless packet capture in centers. This is used to physically scan the packets, mainly with wireless ring scanners, but also with wired scanning stations.

Paperless Invoice

Since the beginning of 2008, UPS has been one of the first companies to offer paperless invoices for imports and exports.


  • On September 3, 2010, a UPS Boeing 747-400 cargo plane crashed just a few kilometers from the airport in Dubai. After a fire broke out in the cargo hold during the flight, probably caused by the transport of dangerous goods, the pilots tried to make an emergency landing in Dubai. However, due to heavy smoke and poor visibility, this was not possible (see UPS Airlines Flight 6). It was checked whether there may have been lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold. Both pilots died in the accident. Back in February 2006, a cargo plane caught fire in Philadelphia, possibly also because of lithium-ion batteries.
  • In July 2011, the UK’s Department for Transport severely restricted the number of locations in the UK where UPS was allowed to screen and release air cargo for transport, as safety requirements were deemed not to have been met and the safety of the public was considered to be at risk.

Criticism about UPS

In 2004, the parcel service was rated “satisfactory” in a test by Stiftung Warentest. Pricing and various violations of general terms and conditions law were criticized. The test was repeated in 2010 with the same result, but the handling of the packages was praised. In 2014, the result was achieved again in the second repetition.

In January 2021, UPS announced that half of the 1,000 jobs in Neuss and Monheim would be cut in Germany. The trade union Verdi criticized this decision because there was no economic reason for it.

References (sources)