UPS taps beacon technology to curb misloaded packages

Dive Brief:

  • United Parcel Service is aiming to keep packages from being placed aboard the wrong delivery vehicle with the launch of a new program called Preload Smart Scan, under which delivery drivers use scanners to read package labels connected via Bluetooth with beacons that go off if the label doesn’t match the truck route.

  • The company said misloaded packages can cause UPS to miss deliveries and service commitments by requiring delivery truck drivers to travel miles out of their way to correct the mistakes. UPS believes Preload Smart Scan could lead to a 70% reduction in such misses.

  • The connected beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching 28% of the shipper’s U.S. facilities and 47% of U.S. package vehicles. UPS also has plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally.

Dive Insight:

UPS has been pretty quick to invest in new technology, whether it's testing drones as potential last-mile delivery vehicles or investing in companies like Deliv to try out same-day delivery. Compared to these concepts, striving for more accurate loading of delivery trucks may seem a bit mundane, but misloaded packages are costing the company time and money.

It's a challenge in search of an innovative solution, and UPS faces enough similar operational challenges that the task of solving them has led to the establishment of the UPS EDGE (Enhanced Dynamic Global Execution) program. The program focuses on creating projects under which data and new technology are evaluated as possible for enhancing operations inside the company’s facilities and on delivery routes.

This particular project sounds like it may have been in the works for quite a while as UPS settled on the right technology to solve the problem of misloaded packages. The solution seems like a natural enough one, but the company said it actually had problems funding beacon technology that could work aboard different trucks in the same loading location without interference between the trucks.

“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.” And if the solution really can reduce the occurrence of misloaded packages by 70%, those customized beacons will validate the UPS EDGE program.

Filed Under: Technology Logistics Loss Prevention & Security
Top image credit: William Grimes