UPS Brown Ride Experience : Three Things I Learned from Being a Man in Brown For a Day

"I'd love to do it, Marco! I've always been a big UPS fan and it would be an honor to experience the Brown Ride. I also want to see the amount of care that UPS puts into delivering packages - especially those containing gadgets - to their clients in the Philippines. But here's the thing, bro: I'm not sure if there would be enough tech-related material in the experience for me to share it with my readers; That's my dilemma. I really want to focus on my niche as a tech blogger."

That's what I told my friend, Marco from Ogilvy PR Philippines, when we had dinner a few weeks ago and he invited me to be the first Pinoy blogger to get a 'Brown Ride Experience' from their client, United Parcel Service Inc. (more popularly known as UPS).

Hearing my thoughts about the activity, Marco reassured me, "Don't worry, Mark. Actually, we chose you to take part in it because UPS has always been in tune with the changing times in terms of technology and there are a number of gadgets that they currently use that they want to show you as part of the overall experience."

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride, Mark Milan Macanas

In hindsight, I'm totally glad I said 'yes' and that we pushed through with the Ride last August 12, 2014 because it proved to be one of the most meaningful and exciting activities I've done as a tech blogger thus far.

For those who are not yet familiar with it, the Brown Ride is a unique experience being offered by UPS across the globe to bloggers, members of the media, and to its loyal clientele for them to experience being a UPS Man in Brown - with the uniform and all - for a day and to get a feel of what its like to drive around the metro and deliver packages in the way that only UPS can.

It sounds pretty straight-forward but the truth is, if you open yourself up and totally immerse yourself into it, you can learn a whole lot from the 'adventure'. You can bring home lessons that will really broaden your perspective about life and help you develop a whole new layer of respect for the people in this industry. That said, let me share with you three things that I learned from being a UPS Man in Brown for a day.

1. I learned that Team UPS Philippines is formed by kind and wonderful people who truly care for their clients. And UPS, in turn, takes good care of them.

Before my Brown Ride, our friends from UPS together with Marco and Eunice from Ogilvy warmly welcomed me to the "company experience" through a friendly chat over sumptuous lunch. During our conversation, I really felt that Team UPS is a family that works together to deliver the best service possible to their loyal clientele in and outside the country. They really made me feel at home with UPS.

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
(Standing, from L-R): Bo Evangelista, Milo Gomez, Felipe Valenzuela, Marco Sindiong of Ogilvy PR (Sitting, from L-R): Rosephine Colina, Marie Shella Cellan, Ramonet Tanate, (Me) Mark Macanas, Eunice Braga of Ogilvy PR

I met Sir Bo, Miss Shella, and Miss Rose from the Marketing and PR Departments, Sir Milo and Sir Mon from Technology Group, and Kuya Ipe from Delivery Operations. They told me their fun and heart-warming stories as members of the UPS family and how being a part of the company has been a very fulfilling experience for them.

Miss Rose, for instance, has been with UPS since its earliest days in the country way back in the late 90's and has stayed and grown with the company through the years. "I'm proud to be part of UPS, Mark. We are already like a family here. UPS really takes care of all of its employees and gives us an opportunity to grow into our professions and to discover our talents," she shared.

2. UPS uses technology and gadgets in the entire process of handling packages -- from receipt to delivery. (Geekery Alert!)

After our lunch, Team UPS took me around their headquarters in Paranaque City and there, I learned that - contrary to what you may be thinking (and to what I initially thought) - the company actually utilizes the latest in technology to create a highly efficient system in servicing their clients.

In fact, they even have a technology group that handles all the software, physical equipment, and gadgets that they use in their operations!

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
(from L-R): Donald Navarro, Resty Acquitan, Ferdinand Abalos, Francis Cabalod, Milo Gomez, Francis Bautista, Felipe Valenzuela, Rosephine Colina

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
When you place your shipment online, it will automatically be placed in UPS' global tracking system, making it possible for you to know the status of your delivery in real time.

One of the new and cool gadgets that UPS Men in Brown use when handling packages is the DIAD V handheld computer developed and created by UPS with Honeywell International. It is a device specifically crafted for the express carrier industry that accelerates the transfer of customer tracking data and makes it possible for UPS and its customers to keep track of almost 16 Million deliveries worldwide each day!

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
Sir Milo holding the DIAD V - that looks like a big BlackBerry - with his left hand.

According to UPS, the DIAD V - which weighs just more than half a kilogram, has a clearer and larger display compared to its predecessor, and is equipped with a color camera that could be used to enhance proof-of-delivery information - marks a change in Asia-Pacific with the ability to transfer real-time data with dual-carrier redundancy, ensuring the device is always connected. With 100,000 units in use worldwde, UPS’s global network relies on the DIAD for most of the tracking information being viewed by customers online, facilitating on average 32.1 million online tracking requests daily. It also enables UPS operators to forward customer requests, including changes to package delivery instructions, while the UPS driver is on the road.

In an interview, Mr. Dave Barnes - UPS’ Chief Information Officer - explained how the company views this unique mobile technology, "What began 20 years ago as a bulky brown box with a monochrome screen has evolved into a sleek, light-weight mobile device that allows UPS to be even more reliable for customers in 220 countries. Increasingly, the technology that powers logistics is mobile. Being competitive means staying connected anytime, anywhere. Mobile technology has created a virtual logistics landscape where people and products move without limits—around warehouses, facilities, networks and the world—transforming customer relationships and business operations. And UPS is helping make that happen."

Apart from the DIAD V, another special equipment that UPS utilizes in its operations is the Dimensional Weighing System. Mr. Rommel Dela Cruz, Industrial Engineering Specialist of UPS Philippines gave me an exlusive demo of the machine, which is capable of quickly and accurately measuring the dimensions and weight of packages and hence, makes the company's express delivery service even faster. Check out the video:

3. The dedication that UPS Men in Brown put into their profession is unquestionable and inspiring.

After the tour around UPS Headquarters, I was finally ready to put on my 'Man in Brown' uniform and hop inside the UPS Van filled with packages to be delivered. So exciting!

UPS, UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
Eunice joined me in my Brown Ride with Kuya Ipe, who's the Man in Brown in charge of the whole 'Pasay City and Manila Port Area' territory. 

Kuya Ipe has been a Man in Brown for more than a decade already and he is one of the very first delivery personnel hired by UPS when they were just starting their operations in the Philippines. With him, I really felt that Eunice and I were in good hands.

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
We were greeted by heavy traffic as soon as we hit the road at around 2PM.While driving the van, Kuya Ipe calmly told us that he's already used to it. 

"Di na bago sa akin yan. Halos araw araw naman may traffic. Kailangan lang mahaba ang pasensya mo. [It's nothing new to me. Almost everyday, there's heavy traffic. You just have to be patient.]"

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
It took us around 30 minutes to get through the long line of vehicles along Ninoy Aquino Ave. and NAIA Road but thankfully, traffic cleared when we reached Roxas Boulevard. 

"Lumuluwag rin naman ang traffic and medyo makakahinga ka [Traffic gets better and you'll get a breather]," Kuya Ipe said just as we spot another UPS Van on the road. He told us he knows the Man in Brown driving the van, "Magkakaiba kami ng areas pero magkakakilala kami kasi matagal narin kaming magkakasama sa UPS [We service different areas but we all know each other because we've together at UPS for a long time already.]"

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride
For me, the drive from Paranaque to Pasay was already very tiring. But for Kuya Ipe, his job for the day was just starting.

Our first stop was a big sporting goods distribution company near Taft Avenue. There, I saw him use his DIAD for the first and he even asked me to try it out. Apparently, there's a barcode scanner at the top of the device, which lets the user get the package information faster and to instantly update UPS servers of its real time location. It's very easy to use.

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride

What's not easy is having to properly schedule deliveries (i.e, making sure you arrive on time and that you deliver every package in the van before your shift ends) and to move and hand packages (some weighing several kilos) from the UPS Van to the recipient with utmost care. Of course, you also have to know every street and establishment within your territory or "area of responsibility" like the back of your hand -- on top of the fact that you have to leave a good impression on every client you face because Men in Brown practically represent UPS as a company everywhere they go. Kuya Ipe has got all that covered and I really admire him for that. I think he should be very proud of himself for meeting all the requirements of his profession with grace, pride, and dignity every single day.

UPS Philippines, UPS Brown Ride

From 2:30 PM to around 5:30 PM, our team was able to make a total of five stops. (I would have wanted to make more stops with Kuya Ipe and Eunice but I had an important meeting scheduled that evening.) The fifth one, I would say, is the most memorable because we had to drop by the location twice. The first time we went there, the security staff in the establishment couldn't find the recipient of the package so we had to leave and jump to the next delivery. Then, when were already around 600 meters away, we got a call from the head office to go back to the previous stop because they've gotten in touch with the recipient and she was already there to receive the package -- so that's what we did. I guess that only goes to show that UPS really tries their very best to deliver every package with complete urgency.

There you go, TP Friends! That's my UPS Brown Ride Experience. Overall, as I've said, it's an adventure that I will never forget. To wrap this up, let me share with you my "Man in Brown" realization that I shared with Kuya Ipe and Eunice on our way to our third stop -- a school near Quirino Avenue. I said, "Talagang totoo ang sabi nila na mahalaga ang lahat ng trabaho at industriya. Hindi ko maisip na walang katulad ni Kuya Ipe at walang UPS na magdedeliver ng mahahalagang packages kagaya nito." [It's really true that every job and industry is important. I can't imagine not having someone like Kuya Ipe or UPS to deliver important packages like the ones we carry.]