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Industry Needs Protocol for Proof of Delivery

Small Courier companies “will either be swallowed up by the bigger operators or will vanish completely” if they fail to implement new despatch and proof of delivery technology, claims wireless solutions provider T@lecom.

CEO, Jan O’Hara, said the potential productivity gains were such that the larger players were already adopting real-time mobile data solutions across their fleets. The rest will find it hard to remain competitive unless they follow suit.

The traditional paper-based systems are costly and inefficient, but until recently, wireless solutions involved high capital investment in scanners and bulky handsets, plus large call costs on top.

GPRS and Bluetooth technologies have led to the emergence of compact PDA devices which also act as mobile phone, allowing offices to stay in constant touch with their workforces without incurring large call charges. Jobs can be sent out to couriers, who in turn can send confirmation when the job has been completed.

O’Hara said two factors were holding back industry-wide adoption of this coveted solution.

“Firstly, the term proof of delivery (POD) has many meanings to the courier industry, whether it is in the form of a piece of paper, a text or a phone call.

Currently there are a number of solutions available to the marketplace all using different POD mechanisms.

“To take the next step forward, an industry standard format for the POD needs to developed – a standard protocol.

“Perhaps the most suitable form is electronic signature capture, which would see the courier collecting the recipient’s signature at the POD on their deliver device, which is then instantly sent over the GPRS network to the back office.

“Electronic signature capture is a quick, easy to use and reliable format and can be taken one stage further with the inclusion of credit card verification at the point of delivery, making the process more secure.

“The second barrier to an industry-wide mobile data solution is the fear that this is expensive technology and will hit already tight margins. While there is a cost in using this technology, there are many savings to be made else-where in the back office process and in terms of productivity gains.

“Mobile data solutions eradicate much duplication of data throughout the delivery process as information only needs to be input once and can then be transferred electronically.”

Jan O’Hara added that better informed offices can allocate jobs more cost-effectively. “Satellite navigation and satellite tracking can also be incorporated, providing even further efficiencies for minimal extra costs”