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UPN is offering its members “significantly upgraded support” after opening a purpose-built SmartHUB central sortation facility.

The network said it had so far invested £3m on the project at Fradley Park Lichfield, half a mile from its previous location.

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Operations commenced on schedule on 11 May, despite the challenges presented by Covid-19.

UPN MD David Brown said the hub provides capacity for business growth for at least the next decade.

“Our new SmartHUB is a massive step forward for all of us at UPN”, he added.

The new hub uses a new contactless SmartHUB IT system,  particularly useful in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“UPN have developed SmartHUB IT in response to requests from our membership for greater support and control,” said Brown. “Now all inbound and outbound UPN trunks are monitored minute by minute, mile by mile, and scheduled in a timely way to ensure synergistic and speedy central sortation and pallet transhipment.

“In the same way that an airport handles flights UPN give member trunks 'slots' to smooth flow our central sortation operation for the benefit of all of us.”

A SmartHUB IT app uses GPS to monitor both inbound and outbound trunks and receives 'call in' notifications to indicate when on-site trunks are ready to be loaded and receives the outbound manifest. It will then instruct drivers to come and get loaded, and automatically log site arrivals and exits.

SmartHUB IT also includes a number of central sortation tools:  An arrivals board displays expected arrivals highlighting late or early arrivals using real time GPS locations and traffic conditions; a resource planning tool manages central staffing levels in line with ETAs; and member depots will have tools to book extra inbound vehicles online and to view map positions of outbound trunks in real time.