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FedEx courier system could save $20m a year

FedEx is to deploy handheld devices to its 40,000 FedEx Express couriers next year in a $150m (£96.6m) project that could save...

FedEx is to deploy handheld devices to its 40,000 FedEx Express couriers next year in a $150m (£96.6m) project that could save the company $20m annually, according to Ken Pasley, director of wireless systems development at FedEx.

FedEx announced this week that it had selected Motorola to develop and manufacture the new handheld device, the FedEx PowerPad.

Pasley described the PowerPad as an "industrial-strength" version of commercial hardware that uses the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system and will automate dispatch, pickup and delivery. It will also eliminate the paperwork once handled by couriers, which accounts for the bulk of the annual $20m in savings.

FedEx Express couriers pick up and deliver 3.5 million packages a day and the PowerPad is designed to save ten seconds at each stop.

The PowerPads will communicate with a back-end FedEx system over a nationwide General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) network that has a data rate of 20Kbps to 40Kbps operated by AT&T Wireless Services.

In April, FedEx disclosed that it had signed a five-year deal with AT&T Wireless for GPRS, but declined to disclose the cost. Pasley said that the total value of the contracts with Motorola and AT&T Wireless was $150m.

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