UPS said today it is now in the process of upgrading hand-held computer units for drivers around the world, with the aim of completing the roll-out in 2013.
The company is switching to the fifth generation Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) , a system which it says is more durable and holds more data than the previous generation – and comes about half the size and weight of the DIAD IV.
It began to offer the new technology in the US back in September, but said it is now rolling out around 100,000 units around the world.
UPS uses the DIAD system to manage most of the tracking activities for packages, with its color camera supporting proof-of-delivery requirements and facilitating the 32.1m online tracking requests the company receives on average each day.
The unit keeps UPS drivers up to date on any changes in delivery instructions while they are out on the road, with the units in continuous contact with a cellular service.
This later point comes thanks to “Gobi” radio technology, which makes the DIAD units the first in the delivery industry able to switch between different cellular carriers instantly when a signal is lost.
Weighing 19 ounces, the DIAD V comes with a clearer colour display, expanded memory and a barcode scanning system that means a driver can scan a barcode from any direction.
Future applications possible on the units include navigation systems to help UPS drivers avoid traffic jams.
UPS said its system is now approved for use in more than 100 countries.
The shipping giant developed the DIAD V device working closely with manufacturer Honeywell, which is providing the technology to the rest of the industry as the Dolphin 9EX mobile computer system.
Atlanta-based UPS began using the first generation of DIAD systems back in 1991.
Dave Barnes, chief information officer at UPS, said: “What began 20 years ago as a bulky brown box with a monochrome screen has grown into a sleek, lightweight mobile device that allows UPS to be even more reliable for customers in 220 countries.
“This computer accelerates the transfer of customer tracking data and makes it possible for UPS customers to track almost 16m deliveries worldwide each day,” added Barnes.