TNT wears its technology well

TNT wears its technology well

Delivery firm speeds up loading with wearable scanning technology

Wearable scanning technology has helped cut loading times at TNT Express parcel warehouses by 30 per cent, as part of the firm’s wider mobile IT upgrade.

So far 155 staff are using the wearable system to scan parcel barcodes as they are loaded into delivery vans. And by March next year, 1,000 units of the technology ­ which was developed in partnership with Motorola ­will be rolled out across TNT’s network.

Freeing workers’ hands from the scanning procedure, along with updated mobile computers in drivers’ cabs, is improving the flow of data and helping sharpen the firm’s Track and Trace service, said TNT national information officer David Higgins.

“The flow of items through the network to the driver is now more efficient,” he said.
“Vehicles are loaded faster and are out on the road earlier.”

Mobile systems have been installed in TNT’s 2,750-strong van fleet, so drivers can log on using the wireless network at their depot and switch to a GPRS network on the road.

By enabling drivers to update online data directly, the Track and Trace service is made more efficient and fewer customers call TNT’s helpline.

“The installation of in-cab devices are driven by the customer need for information to be more readily available,” said Higgins.

“The drive for investment is customer-focused, but gaining efficiencies goes in tandem.”

There are also benefits for delivery staff themselves.

“Drivers can earn more if they finish deliveries early as they can receive new orders via their handsets,” said Higgins.

Innovative use of IT is vital to win and keep customers, said Higgins.

“We work in a competitive market and we use technology to keep ahead and improve processes, become smarter and more efficient,” he said.

But despite the potential of radio frequency identification (RFID), TNT is not convinced.

“With RFID tags, there is no line of sight, so you lose that one-to-one relationship to ask about potential problems,” said Higgins.