UPS rolls out new edition of its DIAD mobile computer
March 01, 2012 - LM Editorial
UPS said this week it is now starting to provide its drivers with a new-generation handheld computer that will provider myriad benefits from both a productivity perspective, as well as for its customers.
Company officials said this computer—the fifth generation Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD V)—accelerates the delivery of package information to the UPS network and its customers. They added that the DIAD V is the first to use Gobi technology, which enables instant switching of cellular carriers in the event a carrier’s signal gets lost so it can remain connected to the UPS network.
“We have been evolving this product since its introduction in 1991 and periodically go through our normal refresh cycles as the technology is evolving all of the time,” said Laynglyn Capers, Vice President of IS Operations at UPS, in an interview. “And we are seeing significant trends in terms of changes in the mobile computing space.”
The DIAD V, which UPS developed with Honeywell Inc., is roughly half the size and weight of its predecessor, the DIAD IV and is faster and more durable and holds more data, according to UPS. It weighs 19 ounces and also has a clearer and larger display screen.
UPS launched the company-wide rollout for its new mobile computer in September 2011, with 8,000 units in use during Peak Season last year, and 100,000 units are expected to be in use, when the rollout is complete next year. Capers said the DIAD V will be employed to both UPS package delivery drivers and UPS Freight (its less-than-truckload subsidiary) drivers. This deployment is global and will be used by UPS in all global regions. When the rollout is complete, it will represent the entire UPS driver fleet, according to Capers.
“The first thing customers have noticed is the ergonomics of the device,” said Capers. “They notice the same things the drivers noticed in terms of the size and weight of the DIAD V, which is significantly reduced from the previous generation, which was released in 2004 (the DIAD IV weighed about 2.5 pounds). The signature capture is also easier to deal with, too.”
Capers added that the DIAD V makes it easier for customers to interface with certain UPS products like MyChoice, which gives consumers a one-day alert for when a package is coming and allows them to control the timing and location of the delivery. In this case, he said the DIAD V plays an integral role in determining what personalized options should be in play for a particular delivery.
“If a customer had directed us to leave a package at a neighbor’s house, because he knew he would not be home, that would come up as a prompt on the DIAD display,” said Capers. “And with a faster processor and memory we are able to offer services like that.”
On the technology, Capers said the entire supply chain has been influence by mobile technology and the ability to get constant information streams and updates about the location of shipments, which has been significantly enhanced by mobility. He added it has improved the overall networking capability in which these devices can be deployed in different venues like warehouses and distribution centers.
Another significant advantage has to do with the improvement in image recognition technology, he said, which is a major step up from the “old days” of laser-based barcode scanning technology, whereas the new technology can capture an image and extract information from it much more quickly than a person trying to find the right angle to read a barcode.
“That is a significant enhancement for us from a productivity point of view,” he said.
From a package delivery throughput perspective, Capers said that the DIAD V does improve overall throughput and reliability for moving information, because the features of the device, including the Gobi radio and a color, auto-focus flash camera that can be used to enhance proof-of-delivery and to help speed customer claims, broadcast where packages are so UPS can redirect drivers to schedule a different time of pickup. This increases productivity levels and allows UPS to handle more global shipments.
“Increasingly, the technology that powers logistics is mobile,” said Dave Barnes, UPS chief information officer, in a statement. “Being competitive means staying connected anytime, anywhere. Mobile technology has created a virtual logistics landscape where people and products move without limits - around warehouses, facilities, networks and the world - transforming customer relationships and business operations. And UPS is helping make that happen.”