COMPETITION WATCH:UPS rolls out new generation driver computer

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ATLANTA, Ga.– UPS has rolled out a new generation driver computer that can “talk” with four different wireless communication systems to speed tracking information to customers.

It’s also smaller and lighter than its predecessor, works in color, is easier to use and has an expanded memory that will support some new, more customized services in the near future, says the company.

The computer is also part of a broader technology shift that is allowing UPS to dramatically reduce its fuel consumption while improving route planning, vehicle loading and package delivery, the company claims.

“This is a key component of a bigger system that we call Package Flow Technology. Our drivers are going to have all the information in their handheld computers to make even more reliable deliveries while driving fewer miles,” says Dave Barnes, UPS’s chief information officer.

The new computer — known as the fourth-generation Delivery Information Acquisition Device or DIAD IV — will be deployed rapidly now that it has undergone more than a year of extensive field testing. Co-developed with Symbol Technologies, UPS expects to deploy 32,000 in the United States and 8,000 internationally by the end of this year. The company plans to have more than 70,000 in use worldwide by the end of 2007.

The latest version continues improvement in areas such as links to the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, which aims to improve customer service, the ability to connect real-time with four different wireless networks, including personal (Bluetooth); local (Wi-Fi), and wide area (GPRS or CDMA), a color screen that accommodates color-coding of messages to drivers, and memory of 128 megabytes or 20 times that of DIAD III.

“We always talk about this computer in terms of technical improvements, but we never lose sight of what it really means: a new tool for our drivers to offer reliable, one-to-one customer service by putting up-to-date information about each customer’s delivery at the driver’s fingertips,” says Barnes.

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