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UPS installs electronic beacons into delivery vehicles to prevent package mistakes

UPS is installing electronic beacons in its package cars in a move which will let staff know if they have placed an item in the wrong delivery vehicle and could cut misloads by up to 70%, the company estimates.

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

The company claims that the initiative, known as Preload Smart Scan, is already saving time and money where the beacons are already installed since it avoids miles driven to re-route misloaded packages.

“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) program, which uses data and technology to enhance operations inside the company’s facilities and on delivery routes.

UPS delivers nearly 20 million packages and documents a day. The company anticipates that Preload Smart Scan will lead to a 70-percent reduction in misloads.

UPS worked on a customised solution since 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.

UPS beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching a total of 28% of U.S. facilities and 47% of U.S. package cars. UPS also plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally.

Image credit: UPS

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