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Next-generation driver delivery computers

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ADCA member Symbol Technologies is implementing a comprehensive solution that will enable FedEx Ground in North America to track packages throughout its system, maximising customer service and supporting the company's mission to increase volume package-processing.

Symbol is providing a specially developed wide area network-base hand-held computer appliance system to be used by the more than 9,000 FedEx Ground contractors who pick up and deliver nearly two million packages each day.

The system - the largest deployment ever of wide area network appliance for track and trace - is built around Symbol's state-of-the-art pen/key handheld computers and wide area network mobile gateway.

It will provide constant connectivity between the on-the-road contractors and customer service representatives.

In addition, Symbol is supplying its standards-based Spectrum24 wireless local area network infrastructure and its wearable computing appliance system to track and sort packages in its network of 350 hubs and distribution centres.

The contract is estimated to generate more than $40 million in revenue for Symbol's growing logistics technology systems business in the next six months.

The Symbol STAR II driver delivery mobile computers track barcoded packages and read PDF417, the two-dimensional dense-code symbology that is a vital part of the FedEx Ground Multicode shipping label.

PDF417 (ANSI endorsed symbology) can contain up to two kilobytes of important package and shipping information in a stamp-sized symbol. The STAR II computer contains Symbol's new 2D scan engine which is optimised to read PDF417.

The device is highly rugged to withstand repeated drops to the ground and adverse weather conditions - real-world conditions for FedEx Ground contractors --and features a high capacity battery that allows driver usage throughout a work shift.

It features a touch-screen display, which allows signature capture for proof of delivery, and an active keyboard. Drivers can enter data in three ways: touch, keypunch and bar code scanning.

Symbol's Mobile Gateway product, a real-time, truck-based communications system, will act as an on-van communications device to allow FedEx Ground contractors to communicate same day delivery confirmation to customer service representatives at the company's Pittsburgh headquarters.

FedEx Ground has also installed Symbol's standards-based Spectrum24 network and WS 1000 wearable computers in its network of hubs and end-of-line-terminals.

Spectrum24 provides a wireless local area network infrastructure to synchronize data collected by FedEx Ground contractors throughout the day, and allows FedEx Ground package handlers to scan, track and identify packages as they are received, sorted and shipped.

Package handlers equipped with the Symbol WS 1000 wearable computer system, which includes a mini-bar code laser scanner worn as a ring, back of the wrist computer and Spectrum24 wireless LAN radio, scan packages at various points within FedEx Ground facilities, including just as they are loaded on to the truck for final delivery, to improve the flow of package information and enhance the sortation process.

"Symbol's advanced technology solution is part of FedEx Ground's investment and commitment to provide the best possible service to our customers," FedEx Ground president Dan Sullivan said. Symbol Technologies 03 9862 7000.

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