UPS has started the rollout of a new generation driver computer that can connect with four different wireless communication systems to speed tracking information to customers.
It's also smaller and lighter than its predecessor, works in color, is easier to use and has an expanded memory that will support some new, more customized services in the near future.
"There's really nothing like it," said Dave Barnes, UPS's chief information officer. "This is a key component of a bigger system that we call Package Flow Technology. Our drivers are going to have all the information in their handheld computers to make even more reliable deliveries while driving fewer miles."
The new computer is known as the fourth-generation Delivery Information Acquisition Device or DIAD IV and will be deployed rapidly now that it has undergone more than a year of extensive field testing. Co-developed with Symbol Technologies, UPS expects to deploy 32,000 in the United States and 8,000 internationally by the end of this year. The company plans to have more than 70,000 in use worldwide by the end of 2007.
UPS was started to equip drivers with a handheld computer, starting in 1991. The latest version brings improvement like a link to the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, which will improve customer service. GPS will give a dispatch center the ability to locate the most convenient driver to respond to an On-Call Pickup, for example. Eventually, the GPS link also will help drivers searching for an unfamiliar address and sound an alert if they're in the wrong driveway for a particular delivery.
The new version also adds the ability to connect real-time with four different wireless networks, including personal (Bluetooth); local (Wi-Fi), and wide area (GPRS or CDMA). The Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities allow the DIAD to access printers and other devices within a UPS facility or with a customer's PC. CDMA is a wide-area wireless network standard used by UPS in the U.S. GPRS is another wide-area network standard used by UPS in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The device has a colour screen that accommodates color-coding of messages to drivers and 128 MB (megabytes) memory, or 20 times that of DIAD III. UPS will use this expanded memory in the near future to provide new, more customized services to its customers.
"Over the past decade, the DIAD has been the critical customer-facing, front-end device of an integrated global network that's now tracking some 14.1 million deliveries every day. DIAD IV significantly expands the visibility surrounding those packages, and that's going to enable us to offer some nifty new services in the future" said Barnes.