United Parcel Service is beginning the process of replacing the ubiquitous handheld devices used by its 90,000-plus drivers with technology that offers more capability built into a smaller and lighter weight package.

Known within UPS as the Delivery Information Acquisition Device or DIAD, the 5th generation of this device – built by Honeywell – is approximately half the size and weight of the current model, and offers:

  • A color display and microprocessor with substantially expanded memory to support navigation applications and other advanced functions;
  • A color, auto-focus, flash camera to enhance proof-of-delivery and help resolve customer claims more quickly;
  • Faster wireless (Wi-Fi) support (600 mbps) to enable larger and richer content downloads such as training videos;
  • A 2D imager that can decode many package shipping “symbols,” including existing UPS linear barcodes and the UPS Maxicode, and thus speed the upload of additional package information at the time a package is first picked up. The 2D imager also will make it even easier to “capture” a clear view of a recipient’s signature.
  • On-the-fly switching between cellular carriers, meaning the DIAD computer can automatically jump to another cellular carrier if the preferred carrier’s signal is lost.

Donna Longino, a UPS spokesperson, told Fleet Owner that the expected life cycle of DIAD units averages between five to seven years, which is why the company is beginning the replacement process this year. UPS said it plans to begin field testing the new DIAD device later this year, then start a multi-year, global deployment in 2011 with 100,000 units across more than 100 countries.

“It also allows us to bring in newly available technology to help us leverage this tool to drive efficiencies throughout our package delivery system,” she added.