UPS installs beacons on package cars to improve loading accuracy

UPS has announced it is installing electronic beacons in its package cars to notify workers if they have placed an item in the wrong delivery vehicle. The initiative, known as Preload Smart Scan, is part of a suite of UPS projects using technology to error-proof package processing operations.

Preload Smart Scan uses Bluetooth-enabled beacons that communicate with package-scanning devices worn by UPS employees loading packages onto vehicles. The scanners, which read package labels, are programmed to know where a package belongs in a specific vehicle. The beacons, meanwhile, send signals that are unique to certain vehicles and their position within the vehicle. The scanners detect those signals. If a package enters the wrong vehicle, the scanner will notify the loader of the error.

“This is an important step toward improving accuracy in our operation,” said John Dodero, UPS vice president of industrial engineering. “It raises the level of service we provide to our customers. It also makes us more efficient and generates valuable cost savings.”

Preload Smart Scan is one of dozens of projects under the UPS EDGE (Enhanced Dynamic Global Execution) programme, which uses data and technology to enhance operations inside the company’s facilities and on delivery routes. It aids planning and execution and enables better decisions throughout the company’s operations.

UPS’s beacon application in a package delivery vehicle required a customised solution. Off-the-shelf beacons were inadequate due to their broad signal range and the close proximity of UPS package cars during morning loading. Beacon signals bled through the sides of package cars, yielding inaccurate information. To solve this technical challenge, UPS worked with a vendor to customise beacons for use on delivery vehicles that are parked very close together. The beacons now have a tighter range, rugged design, longer battery life and can be configured to match the exact dimensions of the package car.

Preload Smart Scan relies on a robust set of telematics solutions that UPS continues to deploy across its global network. The customised beacon technology builds on UPS’s innovations in big data and the internet of things. In this case, the data UPS collects on each package helps ensure accurate delivery time estimates.

UPS beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching a total of 28% of US facilities and 47% of US package cars. UPS also plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally. The company anticipates that Preload Smart Scan will lead to a 70% reduction in misloads.

Source: UPS