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Example research essay topic: Federal Express - 1,297 words

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Since 1971, time sensitive packages and letters have been delivered safely and punctually to anyone, anywhere in the world. Often times, the contents of these packages contain life saving materials. The company that makes efficient delivery possible is Federal Express. FedExs guaranteed overnight delivery, or your money back offer, makes it a unique and highly trusted company. Many aspects go into making this company work like a well-oiled machine; including packaging, the variety of modes of transporting, and the ability to track the where abouts of the package from any place in the world. With these attributes nearly perfected, FedEx has truly "made the world small" (Kinney, 6-10).

From its relatively humble beginnings in 1971, to its current world dominance; what makes FedEx such a well-oiled machine? This year marks the 28th anniversary of the founding of Federal Express. These have been 28 remarkable years that have transformed the way the world does business. From their early Falcon flying days operating in a few U.S. cities, to the global express powerhouse they are today, they have remained dedicated and committed to providing their customers the best possible service possible. FedEx began operating in 1971, and is now the world's largest express transportation company. The founder of this company is Fred Smith, currently the President and CEO of FedEx. FedEx was founded with the goal to move packages.

Fred Smiths idea was different, his new company had an amazingly fresh concept - to devote a fleet of jets to overnight delivery. Smith came from a long line of transportation entrepreneurs and learned to fly at the young age of 15. In 1969, he purchased Arkansas Aviation with the goal of doing something more than merely selling aircraft, as had been the businesss sole purpose in the past. As a political science and economics major at Yale, Smith had done extensive research on challenges facing pioneering firms in the information-technology industry. Through his research he determined that reliability and speed had never been strengths of cargo services, as they were typically sent on passenger planes on daytime flights, making next day deliver nearly impossible. Also, shipment outside of large cities required many transfers or was simply not available (Kinney, 47). Smith decided that Federal Express could streamline operations by shipping all packages to a central point for sorting and then reloading onto planes.

After this was accomplished, the packages would then be flown to their destination. Smith discovered this style of shipping by observing how the banking industry collected canceled checks at sorting locations and then distributed them to individual banks (Kinney, 54). In 1971, Fred Smith incorporated Federal Express and went in search of investors. He was just 27 years old. Many of the people he approached with his new idea thought his plan was impossible and questioned the need for this type of service. Smith ended up putting up $4 million of his own money and, with the aid of investors, who eventually added an additional $80 million, began Federal Express (Kinney, 55).

In the beginning, FedEx had twelve cities in the East and Midwest as delivery sites, and a small sales staff, who labored to establish accounts in those places. A small fleet of Dassault Falcons awaited the packages, with couriers ready to pick up and deliver them in cars and vans. In 1973, Fed Ex had grown to include 389 employees, 25 U.S. cities, and their fleet had grown to 14 Falcons. Today, FedExs headquarters are world wide, with locations in Tennessee, Asia, Canada, Brussels, Belgium, and Latin America. These headquarters employ more than 145,000 people worldwide, and serve 210 countries with the aid of 625 aircraft flying in and out of 366 airports.

However, none of this would be possible without the aid of the approximate 1,400 world service centers and over 2,400 FedEx ship sites around the globe (FedEx Service Guide, 3-7). An incredible volume of packages are shipped each day. The average package volume is more than 3.2 million daily, weighing approximately 20.6 million pounds overall. The average call volume exceeds 500,000 calls per day with the approximate number of electronic shipments being 63 million. The distance driven per day equals more than 2.7 million miles within the United States alone (www.fedex.com/us/, 4-22-99). These statistics show the immense impact FedEx has on both the business and domestic factions of society. When packing an item for shipment via FedEx, the packer has many considerations to take into account in order to ensure that the item being shipped will arrive undamaged at the final destination.

The ShipSite (www.fedex.com, 5-19-99) packer must consider the item's size and weight, using a scale and a measuring tape to obtain exact dimensions. After weighing and measuring, the packer must then select the appropriate FedEx shipping container to accommodate the item. One rule is that there must be at least four inches of packing materials around the item. When packing fragile items, such as china or glass items, it is necessary for the packer to use bubble wrap in order to safely contain it. When shipping a picture, it is necessary to use glass mask. Glass mask is a type of cellophane that holds the glass together if it is broken, which prevents damage to the picture in the event of breakage. After packing the picture in the glass mask, packing peanuts must be added, filling the box past the top and squishing down to make sure that none of the peanuts shift and allow for breakage (Picture Packing Guidelines, 9). Duane Beaver, owner of MailPlus an authorized FedEx shipping agent says, "If the parcel can be lifted above your head and dropped on a cement floor without breaking, it's packed correctly" (Beaver, 4-26-99).

This generally makes people uneasy, but it could mean the difference between their parcel arriving to its destination in its original condition, or arriving in a damaged state due to negligence. FedEx also offers numerous packaging options which are designed to carry a wide range of items safely to their destinations. These packages include the FedEx Letter, which is used for shipping documents not weighing more than eight ounces; the FedEx Pak, used to ship heavier documents; three sizes of FedEx Boxes, ranging from small to large; the FedEx Tube is designed for any roll up items, such as posters, photos, and blueprints; and stronger weight boxes that are designed for international shipments (www.fedex.com, 5-19-99). Shipping international freight is rather complicated, requiring the use of the FedEx International Air Waybill. The International Air Waybill is a record of the shipping transaction between FedEx and the shipper and serves as a tracking and billing document. This document is required by customs authorities in order make sure the shipment is legitimate, safe, and legal to enter the country. It is used for shipments outside the US (International Air Waybill). Along with the International Air Waybill, five copies of the Customs form are required when shipping items other than documents (International Tipsheet, 2).

A Customs form gives a brief description of the items contained in the package, their value, and the reason for shipping. Other documents may be required, depending on the destination country. These documents include: Commercial Invoice, Consular Fees, Import License, Insurance Certificate, Packing List, Preshipment Inspection, Pro-Forma Invoice, and Sanitary Certificates. These additional forms provide a much more detailed description of what is being shipped. This makes it possible for the receiving country to make certain that they are not taking in anything illegal, such as narcotics, or anything that may threaten national well-being. Another possible hazard in the relation to the countrys welfare may be crop destroying insects or disease, which could reek havoc on the nations economy. Paper notification must be made when shipping hazardous materials. Items such as perfume, hairspray, gasoline, oil, and alcoholic beverages may not be shipped because of on flight danger of explosion.

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