In a significant technology upgrade within its package handling operation, UPS announced the deployment of a new type “wearable” scanning system for employees which accelerates the loading of packages into vehicles and the delivery of visibility information to customers. The new device, made by Motorola Solutions consists of a hands-free imager that is worn on a finger and a small terminal worn on the employee’s wrist or hip. The ring imager represents a major advance because it automatically scans based on label-sensing technology, allowing UPS employees to more quickly image barcodes compared to the current “point and shoot” method with existing equipment. The improved technology enables UPS to accelerate the transfer of package tracking data to customers and improves package travel reliability through the system.
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. With the new equipment, 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’ 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 also has improved 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.