DHL's same-day delivery division is to equip 700 drivers with integrated personal digital assistants and phones to cut costs and improve workflow.
The courier firm has signed a deal with Siemens Communications to supply the middleware between the mobile devices and its back-end systems. Siemens will also provide a front-end interface for the devices based on Microsoft's Pocket PC 2003 operating system.
DHL is currently trialling 40 XDA PDAs from O2 among drivers at its Heathrow and Preston depots. The firm plans to complete a phased roll-out to 700 drivers by the middle of next year.
Whatever device and mobile network DHL chooses for the roll-out, the two key elements will be a Pocket PC user interface, with devices connected over a 2.5G GPRS network, said Siemens' head of mobility Simon Jones.
"These days companies do not really care what type of device is used, as long as it is simple to use and improves workflow. Pocket PC offers the type of drag-and-drop functionality organisations like for their users," said Jones.
DHL drivers currently stay in touch with depots via mobile voice calls, which are proving to be expensive. The cost savings from the PDAs will come from job completion and new delivery information being exchanged instead via the middleware and the Pocket PC's graphical interface.
Simon Croft, managing director of DHL's express sameday division, said, "The solution delivers speed and efficiency benefits in the short to medium term, but it is in the long term that it will deliver real strategic value to our business. Its ability to capture critical data will be invaluable in the re-engineering of our business processes."
DHL declined to reveal the value of the contract.
- More efficient job allocation and job management
- Real-time automated reporting, tracking and information capture
- Reduced paperwork and manual administration.