Transportation and logistics powerhouse UPS Inc. has upgraded the navigation tool used in the handheld devices its drivers carry, and says the software could boost package delivery service levels while reducing miles driven, fuel consumed, and carbon emitted.
The UPSNav tool can achieve all this by providing drivers with detailed turn-by-turn directions derived from UPS's routing software, the Atlanta-based company said Dec. 4. The rollout follows a pilot project held this past fall, when UPS tested it on about 5,000 U.S. and Canadian drivers and saw good results, the firm said.
And the next iteration of ORION is already in the works, scheduled to launch in 2019 with the ability to dynamically adjust throughout the day to recalculate routes, considering factors like changing traffic conditions and the remaining deliveries and pick-up requests.
In the meantime, UPSNav marks a "significant update" to UPS's On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) platform, which determines the optimal order for local package car drivers to make deliveries and pickups, the company said. The upgrade allows ORION to give drivers directions to all those stops in precise detail - even to loading docks and receiving areas that may be located on opposite sides of a building's main entrance, UPS said.
Drivers interact with UPSNav using the screen on their handheld DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device) units, which are mounted to the driver's dashboard for hands-free operation. The unit displays a map showing drivers where to turn, emitting tones to notify them when to slow for a delivery or pickup stop, and exactly where to stop once they have arrived at a destination.
The system also has enough flexibility to allow for adjustments, the company says. UPSNav uses the UPS data infrastructure and proprietary ORION maps, but also allows drivers and other UPS staff to quickly correct or update maps if a delivery or pickup point changes.
"UPSNav is not a conventional navigation platform like those that guide drivers in their personal vehicles from the front door of Address A to the front door of Address B," Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer, said in a release. "UPS drivers make an average of 125 stops each day. They often drive to customer locations that are not visible from the main road or through traditionally available mapping technology. UPSNav was built for the heavy and complex UPS workload."