UPS began deploying a new type of wearable scanning system to help employees in its package sorting centers load packages into vehicles faster and to speed the delivery of visibility information to customers. The hands-free “ring” imager, made by Motorola Solutions, is worn on a finger and communicates via a small terminal worn on the employee’s wrist or hip. The imager automatically scans based on label-sensing technology, allowing UPS employees to more quickly image barcodes compared to the “point and shoot” method.
Internally referred to as “link and load,” the scans are key to providing the tracking data that feeds the 32.1 million tracking requests viewed daily on ups.com. The ring scanner sends each package’s tracking information via Bluetooth to the terminal worn on the wrist or hip. The data is then transmitted over Wi-Fi to the UPS facility network and ultimately to UPS’s global data centers to be stored and processed to be quickly accessed by customers.
The data captured by the imager includes two-dimensional and traditional one-dimensional barcodes. These barcodes reside on all UPS shipping labels and contain pertinent shipment tracking information about the package destination. The imager reads the service level and ZIP code and verifies whether the package is being loaded into the proper trailer or air container. An audible and visible alert identifies any package that’s about to be loaded incorrectly to help UPS avoid service disruptions. The two-dimensional imager is designed to improve the tracking number “read rate,” reducing the need for key entry by employees.
UPS began deploying the new system last year and 28,000 ring imager and terminal devices are currently in use at 480 facilities. The deployment will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2013 with more than 38,000 ring imager and terminal devices in use at 1,383 facilities.