In one of its most significant IT advancements in the past seven years, UPS Inc. said today it would equip its global driver network with a new handheld computer device that the company said is lighter, more powerful, and more functional than anything that has come before.
The Atlanta-based transport and logistics giant said it will roll out the fifth generation of its "Delivery Information Acquisition Device," more commonly known by its acronym DIAD, simultaneously across its worldwide network starting later this year and extending into 2013. By the time the rollout is complete, about 100,000 units will be in use, UPS said. The device will be available to drivers of the familiar UPS package cars as well as over-the-road drivers working for its UPS Freight less-than-truckload subsidiary.
About 8,000 units of the new device, known as DIAD V, were introduced in late 2011 during the peak pre-holiday shipping season. Most UPS drivers are still operating with the fourth-generation device, which was rolled out in 2004. The first handheld device was introduced in 1991.
The company would not disclose the cost of the upgrade.
Lighter but more functional
UPS said the new device has nearly 40 times more processing power than its predecessor, which will dramatically increase its functionality and allow drivers to perform tasks with much greater speed and accuracy than before. The greater processing capability will enable such functions as dynamic mapping and geo-positioning, which can detect if a driver is at the right stop or help the driver avoid a traffic jam.
The device also replaces the traditional laser-scanner technology with multidimensional imaging technology that UPS said will enable more precise and detailed scanning of label information without requiring the driver to rotate the device to capture the bar code.
The device comes with a color camera that UPS said could be used to enhance proof-of-delivery information and help speed up the processing of customer claims. Laynglyn Capers, vice president of technology operations, said the DIAD V is the only handheld device in the industry with an embedded camera.
In addition, the device weighs only 19 ounces, compared with the 2.6-pound weight of its predecessor, the company said.
"The amount of functionality we can pump into the device is greatly enhanced," Capers said.
UPS's global network uses the DIAD for most of the tracking information viewed online. On average, UPS handles 32.1 million online tracking requests each day.