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Future proof

September 13, 2013

Intermec's Jeff Sibio looks at five leading technologies that are helping postal organisations change their market positions

 

1. Broadband mobile communication
A recent survey of 375 decision makers from transportation and logistics companies with more than 500 employees, conducted by Vanson Bourne for Intermec, found that 60% of respondents selected broadband wireless services such as 4G/LTE as one of the most promising technologies. This is mainly because of the evolving use of multimedia-based solutions and the potential that many of those solutions have for improving operational efficiency and customer service. These benefits, coupled with relief from bandwidth constraints and declining costs for data, will eliminate the barriers holding back use of technologies related to real-time systems and richer data content, such as mailpiece imaging and frequent real-time status updates.

2. Location-based predicative intelligence
This is not simply GPS. Although 77% of transportation and logistics organisations use GPS in some manner, few use it optimally and get all the potential benefits from it. Research shows that 90% of respondents are currently using (67%) or plan to use (23%) GPS for reactive purposes such as incremental updates, in contrast to only 47% who are currently using it for proactive customer notification. This proactive use model, which enables  a more customer-responsive business approach, is the future.

3. Advanced imaging solutions
Mobile imaging is more than just reading 1D and 2D barcodes. Just like imaging a barcode, other imaging technologies can add to the accuracy and richness of data collected by a mobile worker. In much the same way that a 2D barcode can help identify an item, its destination, care and handling, and other customer delivery specifics, advanced imaging technologies can enrich the data stream as well. They can be used to automate tasks, thereby eliminating the most error-prone component of processes – manual entry.

A second benefit is the ability to surround images with a variety of details that enrich the value of the image. For example, in the case of a missed parcel collection due to a depot closing early, operators can provide the customer with a picture of their facility’s locked gate with the date, time and location automatically stamped on the photo image, removing blame and allowing the operator to invoice for an unused pick-up order.

4. Vehicle intelligence
For many customers, delivery vehicles are forgotten assets. In some cases, this lack of focus leads to lower levels of fleet use than projected, or to poor maintenance that results in failures and disruptions. The delivery fleet is best managed when integrated into operations and considered part of the standard workflow. Vehicles are different from other assets; they are very intelligent and properly integrating key components of this intelligence into the workflow can improve efficiency and service responsiveness.

5. Mobile asset management
Mobile assets are, by their very nature, hard to track, but this should not force organisations to maintain excessive stocks of assets, which is unfortunately the common cure for poor management. Assets are expensive to research, acquire, maintain, store and dispose of, and many are also stolen for their scrap value. Many asset management systems cost less than the budget to replace assets, so postal operators need to ask: ‘Should I divert a portion of the new asset purchase budget to reduce my long-term costs?’

 

Jeff Sibio is director of industry marketing for transportation and logistics at Intermec Technologies.With over 25 years’ experience he is a thought-leader in the T&L industry and has spoken and been published widely on transportation technology topics.

 

This article was published in the September issue of Postal Technology International magazine

September 13, 2013

 

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