Logistics technology provider Zebra Technologies Corp. will provide hundreds of thousands of handheld mobile computers to the U.S. Postal Service as the beleaguered post office seeks to optimize its operations in the on-demand economy while providing customers with speed, accuracy, and real-time tracking, Zebra said Tuesday.
USPS will start deploying 300,000 of Zebra's TC77 mobile devices as its next-generation "mobile delivery device" in the first half of 2020, using them to scan, track, and trace packages across its carrier network, Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Zebra said.
Zebra did not disclose the dollar value of the contract.
The postal service has struggled in recent months to turn a profit, rupturing nearly $2.3 billion in losses for its fiscal third quarter alone as it searches for a way to convert its nationwide first-class-mail network into a platform that can handle rising tides of e-commerce packages.
Investing in technology upgrades may be a way to take the first steps on that journey. Zebra rolled out its TC77 family of devices in 2018, saying the touch-screen handheld computers were designed for rugged applications in retail, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.
The devices are based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system (OS), a popular consumer technology that is rapidly gaining traction in industrial markets thanks to incumbent software vendor Microsoft Corp.'s withdrawal from that sector and to many companies' efforts to provide workers with technology similar to what they use in their private lives.