UPS offers XML access

Courier firm UPS Europe is rolling out XML-based access to its core systems in a bid to offer its customers an improved view of...

Courier firm UPS Europe is rolling out XML-based access to its core systems in a bid to offer its customers an improved view of their supply chains.

Speaking at last week's Mobile Workforce Solutions conference in London, Jos DuJardin, e-commerce director at UPS, said the XML application programming interfaces will allow UPS customers to discover information about the location of packages."We are looking at data that we can deliver to our customers to make their businesses perform better," he said.

Using the XML interface, UPS customers will be able to access tracking information and feed this into their call centre or website, he added.

One company already using the XML interface is Teleplan, which sells warranties for products such as the Microsoft XBox. UPS provides XML-based tools that connect Microsoft's XBox call centre with applications at Teleplan to allow staff at the call centre to track an XBox being returned for repairs.

Along with XML, DuJardin said UPS is rolling out a number of technologies to reduce the cost of handling packages. One initiative, called Smart Labels, aims to reduce the amount of rekeying needed to handle packages.

The Smart Label comprises human-readable shipping information and a barcode, allowing the package to be sorted through the courier's automated hubs. UPS provides an application on for printing Smart Labels. UPS clients can also use Worldship, a client application that does the same job.

UPS also plans to equip its staff with Bluetooth-enabled ring scanners that will read barcodes as packages are taken off a vehicle. The wireless connection will allow the scanners to be "untethered" from the terminal. The roll-out will involve 55,400 portable terminals and 1,748 wireless Lans across 118 countries.

"We invest more in computers than cars," said DuJardin. UPS plans to invest $100m during this decade on Wi-Fi, GPRS and Bluetooth, he added.

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