UPS cuts paper waste with new HP device

Device prints paperless labels directly on packages, saving time and money

UPS (United Parcel Service) has adopted a nifty new handheld device created by HP used to scan and print paperless labels directly onto packages, thus saving dramatically on paper waste.

UPS and HP collaborated for 18 months to develop the mobile, wireless printing/scanning solution called the HP Handheld sp400 All-in-One. UPS then built a custom business application to support the device.

UPS anticipates that the printing device will save the company capital costs as well as expenses for paper and ink. By eliminating paper labels, it will save 1,338 tons of paper each year once the imprinter is fully deployed and millions of dollars in annual operating costs.

It will also increase the productivity and effectiveness of UPS package center employees.

Here's how it works: The wireless, wearable HP device is being used in conjunction with UPS's Package Flow Technology (PFT) system for route planning. PFT not only designs delivery routes that minimize left-hand turns, but also generates specific handling instructions for each package that tell loaders the exact position in which truck to place a package for delivery the next day.

As a package enters a UPS center for sorting, a UPS employee uses the HP device to scan the shipping label. The device obtains the proper sorting information from a UPS database via a Wi-Fi network inside the facility, then prints those instructions directly onto the package using a fast-drying ink.

Employees can take the HP printing device to packages rather than having to bring packages to the device, which is a time-saver. It replaces and simplifies the current fixed solution, which includes a large thermal printer, PC, monitor and scanner.

In addition to replacing the current bulky setup, the HP solution also improves processing time and reduces the rate of mislabeled packages to virtually zero, according to the companies.