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UPS, FedEx and DHL bet big on health-care logistics

Pharmacists. High-security gated vaults. Sub-zero refrigerators the size of apartments. Forklifts zipping between rows of floor-to-ceiling boxes, standing several stories high.

This is what the inside of UPS’ main health-care hub in Louisville, Kentucky, looks like: 1.4 million square feet of temperature-controlled space occupying 40 acres down the street from the shipping giant’s WorldPort facility. It’s one of 50 specially designed warehouses catering to shipments of medical drugs, surgical devices, even human material such as blood and stool samples.

It’s part of a big push by UPS into a business that’s booming: health-care logistics. As the baby boomer population ages, UPS is betting that the sector will become an even larger part of its future.