FedEx Launches $80 Million Data-Collection System

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FedEx Ground, Pittsburgh, the ground shipment operating unit of FedEx Corp., is rolling out an $80 million data-collection system, the company announced this week.


FedEx said the new technology -- which is designed to capture and record delivery information -- would provide ground shippers with better package visibility through more detailed tracking and faster delivery confirmation, including signature proof of delivery. FedEx Ground is the only small-package ground carrier that provides free POD signatures on the Internet.


The technology will enable FedEx Ground to offer same-day proof of delivery to customers who call 1-800-Go-FedEx. Shippers also will have faster access to POD information -- including electronic signatures -- via www.fedex.com.


"We are committed to developing and integrating into our network the most advanced technology for constantly improving service to our customers," said Ivan Hofmann, executive vice president and chief operating officer at FedEx Ground. "This project gives FedEx Ground customers more of what they need to succeed in the new economy -- timely, accurate information."


The project includes the installation of enhanced hand-held scanners for electronically capturing delivery information -- including signatures -- and in-van computers that will constantly transmit delivery data captured by the new scanners to the company's central mainframe computer. Data will be uploaded after every delivery stop over the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network, a nationwide packet-radio wide area network. In rural delivery areas, satellite communications will be used.


To transmit delivery information to every local pickup and delivery terminal, FedEx Ground has installed a wireless local area network at each of its facilities nationwide. As a van returns to its home terminal, delivery data captured by the scanner will be automatically uploaded via the LAN for use in evening check-in.


The new FedEx Ground data collection system also will provide greater package visibility by doubling the number of en route package scans, primarily at the point of trailer and van loading. The company will accomplish this through the application of radio-frequency-enabled ring scanners, which FedEx Ground package handlers will wear while loading.


"These additional scans will give shippers the most complete and accurate en route tracking in the small-package ground industry," Hofmann said.


About 1,200 ring scanners are in use at more than 100 facilities in the FedEx Ground network. The company plans to use the wearable scanning technology at all 369 FedEx Ground sites by May.


Full implementation of FedEx Ground's new data-collection system is scheduled to be completed in September.


This project complements the carrier's three-year, $500 million expansion plan, announced in January 1999, to boost the package processing capacity of its distribution network by 50 percent.
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