Airborne Express scraps two-way, prefers wireless data
Airborne Express is replacing its two-way radio communications system in favor of a Motorola wireless hand-held data system. Depending on the specific hand-held terminal used and the specific metropolitan area, Airborne’s new system uses one of two public wireless networks. The value of the new system was placed at several million dollars.
The Seattle-based delivery service has placed more than 3,000 hand-held data terminals with its drivers in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle. The system may grow to include 20,000 terminals.
The wireless data system replaces a two-way radio communications system for dispatching and a separate scanning device that would capture package-tracking information. The new data terminal relays package-tracking information scanned into the device by the driver to Airborne’s main shipment tracking system. It also enables signature capture for proof of delivery confirmation. A customer simply signs with a stylus in a window on the terminal’s face.
Airborne and Motorola first began working on the design and implementation plan for the new system in 1997. Airborne contracted with Motorola in 2000 to provide its HDT 500 series hand-held data terminals. The manufacturer describes the terminals as “rugged” and able “to function reliably in the harsh package delivery environment.”
Dave Naim, Motorola’s director of data subscriber operations, said that Airborne’s new system has “flexibility, sophisticated communications capability, system upgradeability and capacity to serve its customers for years to come.”
Bill Ashby, vice president of field services at Airborne, said that the new system’s effect on services to customers has been dramatic. He added that the new system frees drivers from using vehicle-mounted radios and allows information to be relayed throughout Airborne’s communications system in real time.
Airborne delivers documents, letters, small packages and freight to nearly every U.S. ZIP code and more than 200 countries. It offers same-day, next-morning, 10:30 a.m., next-afternoon, second-day, ground delivery service, eCourier, international air express and freight, ocean service, and logistics management.