Technology plays a huge role in the fast-moving package delivery market. Package delivery companies that skimp on innovation investments do so at their own risk.
As part of its effort to be the “shipper of choice” for customers, the U.S. Postal Service has invested millions of dollars in Mobile Delivery Devices (MDD), handheld scanners that allow letter carriers to track package delivery in real time via Global Positioning System. Tracking capability, known as package visibility, is essential for USPS to meet market demands.
MDDs have replaced what carriers previously used — older Intelligent Mail Devices and clamshell cell phones that only tracked packages in “near real time.” As a single device, the MDD is more convenient and can also support multiple requirements, such as Sunday package delivery, dynamic routing (sorting packages in the most efficient, logical order for delivering), speedier reporting of scan data, and future software enhancements.
The Postal Service has deployed 262,800 MDDs, software releases, and related accessories. To date, the Mobile Delivery Device program has improved package visibility and achieved a key metric of reducing repair costs and help desk costs that were associated with the Intelligent Mail Devices.
However, our recent audit report found opportunities for the Postal Service to improve the MDD program and bring it closer to achieving all of the metrics set forth in its business case for investing in the devices. We noted the Postal Service fell short in meeting its timeliness goal for posting delivery scan data to the tracking system and its percentage-of-scans goal.
Some factors hurt the program’s ability to achieve its goals, notably issues around system network connectivity and the conditions of the MDDs, including frozen screens and laser beam readers malfunctioning. The MDD batteries also were sometimes problematic, which forced letter carriers to use ineffective and inefficient workarounds.
We recommended management communicate with the vendor to resolve the battery life issues. We also recommended management update weekly status reports with all known issues related to MDD network connectivity and functionality.
Tell us your experience. If you are a carrier, how do the MDDs work for you? What improvements would you like to see? As a customer, how important is real-time tracking of your packages?