September 7, 2017 4:00 PM, EDT

New Tennessee FedEx Distribution Center Loaded With Technology, Officials Say

TT File Photo

Every one of the up to 12,000 parcels an hour going through the new FedEx Ground distribution center in Chattanooga is run by what officials call a scanner channel.

Each piece is photographed on all sides with the images stored on site and at the company’s Memphis headquarters so if there’s a problem, officials said Sept. 6, they can call up a picture of the item.

FedEx ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

“These are the newest bells and whistles,” said Travis Asberry, senior manager at the facility at Interstate 75 and Apison Pike. “It’s the highest technology we have at the moment.”

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, who toured the new center with others Sept. 6, said the location of the $55 million operation is “really important” to the company, citing its access to much of the country within an eight-hour drive time.

Internet retailing giant Amazon, which has its own huge Chattanooga distribution center just across I-75 in Enterprise South industrial park, is a key client of FedEx, he noted.

Hamilton County Commissioner Chester Bankston said technology has come a long way.

“It amazes me the way the technology is today, how they can run so much through,” he said.

About 200 people now work at the 237,000-square-foot center that opened last month with plans to hire between 50 and 75 more employees for the peak Christmas season, Asberry said.

Most of the jobs are new hires, though some workers moved from FedEx Ground’s Alton Park site, which will remain open in addition to the new facility.

Asberry said the new location will enable FedEx to meet customer demand in the area and prepare the company for growth. He said the portrait photography company Lifetouch, which has major operations in Southeast Tennessee, also is a key customer of FedEx in the area.

FedEx is leasing the new 237,000-square-foot structure on an 80-acre tract. The building was raised by Mobile, Ala.-based builder Saad Development Corp.

The facility is part of the company’s nationwide network expansion in which 15 major hubs have been added and 500 other facilities expanded or relocated around the country since 2005. FedEx Ground has accelerated service by at least one day to more than 70% of the United States since 2003, the company said.

The daily volume of packages FedEx Ground handles has doubled in the past 10 years. FedEx has 90,000 employees, more than 590 distribution hubs and local pickup-and-delivery stations, and 57,000 motorized vehicles operated by 6,000 locally owned small businesses, according to the company.

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