UPS ups freight visibility

United Parcel Service says it is turning to technology connected to the Internet to better integrate freight tracking between trucking, air, rail and ocean transportation modes.

United Parcel Service says it is turning to technology connected to the Internet to better integrate freight tracking between trucking, air, rail and ocean transportation modes.

“Visibility into the movement of goods is vital to our customers' success,” said Dave Barnes, UPS's chief information officer, at the company's fourth annual UPS Technology Summit.

Barnes said UPS is making several enhancements to its network to give customers an integrated view of the progress of their shipments across all modes of travel. Thanks in part to the integration of freight transport companies acquired by UPS in recent years, these moves are designed to expand the geographic reach and shipping options for its customers, he noted.

One of the more visible improvements, to be unveiled late this month, is a single Web page where customers can track air freight, ocean freight and ground freight in addition to small package shipments using either a tracking number or a customer-created reference number.

On the freight side, customers using Flex Global View software, a supply chain management tool, will be able to access it directly from the new tracking page at www.ups.com. It would send delivery and exception notifications for freight shipments, as well as give detailed visibility into the customs clearance process.

For small packages, said Barnes, customers will get greater access to Quantum View visibility tools to allow shippers to set up automatic delivery status alerts to customers.

In another initiative, said Barnes, UPS plans to complete the deployment of its signature handheld computer for drivers — the DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device) — by late next year, to employees of several companies it acquired in Europe, as well as to UPS Freight drivers this year.

“We pioneered the use of wireless handheld computers to empower our drivers to collect and transmit shipping data so that our customers could have immediate visibility into their shipments,” noted Barnes. “Technology is going to remain a key component of our corporate strategy.”

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