MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Every night, at its World Hub here, FedEx sorts up to 1.5 million packages that come in from all over the glove. The packages arrive on about 140 planes and are sorted, and then sent on to their final destinations.
As part of CNET Road Trip 2014, I traveled to the World Hub to see just how the shipping giant handles the literal flood of packages.
Every night, FedEx sends 140 planes to Memphis, and then sends 140 planes back out. Every one of the 1.5 million packages that comes through the World Hub will be sent back out toward its final destination.
FedEx operates numerous types of planes, including this McDonnell Douglas MD-11. It also flies Boeing 777s, 767s, and 757s; Airbus 300s and 310s; and McDonnell Douglas MD-10s.
After packages are unloaded from planes at FedEx's Memphis World Hub, they're brought to one of nine Input areas: five for domestic packages and four that handle international, heavyweight, and dangerous-goods packages.
One container's worth of packages -- about 235 -- floods into the Matrix. From there, FedEx workers take them and send them out on conveyors, where they're scanned and sorted for placement on planes that will take them to their final destination.
After going through the Matrix, packages pass through a scanner, which reads their label -- complete with a bar code -- and sends them on their way to be sorted onto the plane that will take them to their eventual destination.
At FedEx's Global Operations Center, the company can see precisely where any of its planes are at any time. This board displays the status of dozens of flights being operated by the company over a number of days.
At FedEx's Ground Hub in Olive Branch, a six-sided scanner makes it possible for the company to send packages down a conveyor regardless of which side the label with the bar code is on. At its World Hub, workers have to ensure that the label is not facing down, because scanners can only see five sides of a package.