UPS Equips Drivers with Networked Handheld Devices

Package delivery giant UPS has begun to equip its drivers around the world with a handheld computer based on Gobi radio technology, which will allow instant switching of cellular carriers if one carrier’s signal is lost, ensuring the device will stay connected to the UPS network at all times.

The device includes a color camera that could be used to enhance proof-of-delivery information. When it’s not in use for operations, the computer can be used to provide training videos to 90,000 drivers simultaneously.

“Increasingly, the technology that powers logistics is mobile,” says Dave Barnes, UPS’s chief information officer. “Mobile technology has created a virtual logistics landscape where people and products move without limits – around warehouses, facilities, networks and the world – transforming customer relationships and business operations.”

The new computer, known as the fifth-generation Delivery Information Acquisition Device, or DIAD V, is approximately half the size and weight of the DIAD IV; is more durable, and holds more data. Developed with Honeywell International Inc., the DIAD V weighs 19 ounces and has a clearer and larger display.

Approved for operation in more than 100 countries, UPS began to deploy the DIAD V in the United States last September. When worldwide deployment is complete in 2013, approximately 100,000 units will be in use.

UPS’s global network relies on the DIAD for most of the tracking information being viewed by customers online, facilitating on average 32.1 million online tracking requests daily. It also enables UPS operators to forward customer requests, including changes to package delivery instructions, while the UPS driver is on the road.

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