United Parcel Service, Inc. said yesterday that it will begin installing Bluetooth-enabled beacons on trucks to keep packages from being loaded onto the wrong vehicle. The company said the beacons will help cut down on delivery times, reduce human error and reduce misloads by 70 percent. The “Preload Smart Scan” system uses Bluetooth-enabled beacons that communicate with package-scanning devices worn by UPS employees who are loading packages onto vehicles. The scanners, which read package labels, are programmed to know if and where a package belongs in a specific vehicle. If a package goes into the wrong vehicle or in the wrong place in the vehicle, the beacon can detect the problem and notify the worker loading the package immediately. That can help reduce missed delivery deadlines and save time and money. Drivers with misloaded packages “often have to travel miles out of their way to correct the mistakes,” UPS said. UPS plans to have the beacons installed at more than 300 of its locations in the U.S. this year, reaching 47 percent of its U.S. package trucks. It also plans to expand the technology to its international operations.
Total Retail’s Take: UPS’ Preload Smart Scan is just part of a suite of projects designed to use technology to error-proof package processing operations to ensure timely delivery and customer satisfaction. While UPS hasn't publicly stated it, one can deduce that the program is designed to help the company compete better with Amazon.com. After all, the online behemoth is increasingly enhancing its own delivery network as consumers have come to demand quicker and more accurate deliveries for online purchases.