How New Devices and Software Enhance the User Experience
In addition to the handheld Zebra devices that help log delivered packages, the Postal Service has adopted other integrated solutions that are essentially ready to use after purchase. This includes back-office package processing system elements such as a Wi-Fi-enabled overhead scanner.
Housed onsite, the scanner can register a package after it’s unloaded from a truck at a delivery unit.
“When mail comes through, somebody would just place a package underneath the scanner,” Cholkar says. “It will look at the information on the package, decipher that and provide what route that particular package belongs to. It would be sorted to that specific route, and then the carrier can take that package for delivery.”
After distribution, scanning devices are particularly well suited for a fast integration, without the recipients having to make major tweaks, Cholkar says.
“It’s predominantly a small system with software that can be loaded either remotely or before it goes out,” he says. “I can’t do that with big machines; it’s a completely different process because you have to install the thing onsite. When we send technology out, we want it to be plug-and-play as much as we can, so sites can immediately start using them.”
That level of convenience can also help facilitate end users’ acceptance and continued use of new technology.
“The expectation, unless something goes wrong in transit, is that the devices are in a position where they will work when turned on,” Cholkar says. “When we give them technology, it’s good to go. We want to make their jobs easy so they can focus on our customers.”
Relatively painless implementation, however, isn’t the only advantage of plug-and-play equipment. Ongoing maintenance can potentially be simplified if federal agencies choose a ready-to-use product, according to Wright.
“You have a built-in supplier that knows how their system works and operates,” he says. “That’s a different approach than to go to some other company, have them design something specific for you and try to work out all of the bugs and issues before you deploy. You have something that’s already been tested in the field for different customers, and the company can support it upon deployment.”