UPS upgrades driver handhelds; utilizes Gobi

The aim for UPS: Keep the handheld connected to its network constantly for better tracking of 16 million deliveries a day.

Your friendly UPS worker will soon be sporting flashier handheld devices. It's not the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but in supply chain circles it's just as important.

UPS said Wednesday that it is rolling out new handheld computers for its drivers. The handheld---Delivery Information Acquisition Device or DIAD V---is smaller and lighter than the four generations of devices before it and uses so-called Gobi radio technology.

Gobi, popularized by Qualcomm, allows the handheld to instantly switch between cellular carriers if a signal is lost. Gobi enables a bevy of consumer and corporate applications.

The aim for UPS: Keep the handheld connected to its network constantly for better tracking of 16 million deliveries a day and driver efficiency monitoring. The DIAD handheld provides most of the data for online package tracking.

UPS CIO Dave Barnes unveiled the device at the company’s technology summit in Hong Kong. UPS started to deploy the DIAD V in September and expects 100,000 units to be in the field in 2013.

Among the key items in the Gobi handheld:

  • A color camera that is used to prove a delivery was made. The camera can also provide training videos.
  • The device weighs 19 ounces.
  • A color display with expanded memory for navigation applications.
  • A multi-dimensional imager that can decode multiple symbologies---bar code, UPS MaxiCodes---without driver tweaking. This imager can also capture a recipient's signature.
  • Access to a data network that will upload package information to the UPS network as soon as a payload is picked up.

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