There has never been a tougher time to be a logistics manager in charge of delivery fleet operations. With the massive growth in online sales, more goods are being moved by delivery trucks than ever before. In New York City alone, more than 1.5 million packages are delivered daily, according to the New York Times.
Big firms like Federal Express, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service aren’t the only ones under pressure. Transport companies are also feeling the stress, thanks to driver shortages, the operational and customer demand for real-time tracking and delivery confirmations, and the need for reliable two-way communications between dispatch centers and drivers to convey vital information.
Specialized Handheld Computers Are Expensive and Limiting
In recent decades, delivery fleets have increasingly relied on specialized handheld computers that allow their drivers to record new shipments, identify packages in their vehicles that are ready for delivery and confirm receipt of delivered items by customers using electronic signatures.
These specialized devices are typically toughened for daily use in the field. Unfortunately, the high costs associated with these handheld computers and their relatively limited capabilities (compared to consumer smartphones) make them a significant expense for many delivery fleets. For fleet managers, paying a premium for these devices when their cross-functionality is limited is hardly a good deal — but what choice do they have?
The Solution: Ruggedized Push-to-Talk Smartphones
As it turns out, fleet managers do have a choice, with the advent of a new breed of ruggedized push-to-talk (PTT) smartphones. Built for heavy-duty use in the field but with the features and flexibility of consumer smartphones, these devices also cost significantly less than the bulky handheld computers of the past.
Ruggedized PTT smartphones are competitively priced with consumer smartphones, and because these devices function the same way, delivery drivers find them easy to work with. They also operate over the same wireless networks, ensuring that fleet managers can reach their drivers reliably at all times.
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For delivery drivers, fleet managers and warehouse workers, responding to incoming messages using a tactile PTT button is as quick as using a land mobile radio (LMR), even when wearing gloves. Fleet managers can preset priority communication contacts and create talk groups to meet the needs of their workforce.
Some rugged smartphones also allow you to configure physical buttons to activate other key apps or functions, such as a scanning or route navigation app, providing delivery drivers a more seamless workflow. They can be used to receive, manage and file completed delivery documents, accept route plans and changes from dispatch as required, and photograph damage to parcels and vehicles. A minute saved on each delivery can add up to significant total time savings when multiplied across a driver’s day.
With modern logistics management applications, fleet managers can extend supervision and monitoring to every driver on the road, in real time and around the clock. Increasingly, automation and artificial intelligence plays a role in fleet management, and moving to smartphones and cloud-based apps allows transportation and logistics companies to take greater advantage of these future-looking capabilities.
Look for Verified Toughness
Delivery fleet managers should look for two phrases when shopping for ruggedized PTT smartphones: MIL-STD-810G and IP68.
MIL-STD 810G is the U.S. Department of Defense’s durability standard for military-grade equipment. To meet this standard, ruggedized PTT smartphones have to pass a battery of toughness tests. These tests include dropping the smartphone from a height of 5-ft. onto a hard surface multiple times, exposure to continuous vibrations, operation in extreme temperatures, and a variety of other environmental conditions.
IP68 is an international standard for dust and water resistance. To pass this test, the device has to withstand being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes and continue to work normally.
A PTT Smartphone That Delivers
When it comes to fleet deliveries, the new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro meets all the key criteria laid out above for ruggedized PTT smartphones. Built by a smartphone manufacturer that is dedicated to serving industry-specific business needs, this MIL-STD-810G-tested and IP68-certified 4G/LTE Android smartphone comes with two programmable buttons for direct PTT communications and access to key business applications, plus a 6.3-in. touchscreen display made of super-tough Gorilla Glass 5, dual cameras, easy-to-connect pogo pins for fast charging and a long-lasting 4,050mAh battery that can be swapped out in the field.
The XCover Pro is built on Samsung Knox, the company’s defense-grade mobile security platform, to ensure secure communications between dispatch and drivers. This is vital given the XCover Pro’s ability to support EMV Level-1 mobile point of sale (mPOS) transactions, such as collect on delivery (COD) payments and customs charges by delivery recipients.
The XCover Pro also supports Band 48 Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), a license-free wireless band that can be used for short-range data communications between mobile devices. Often referred to as “private LTE,” Band 48 CBRS offers an attractive alternative to WiFi for wireless data and communications across large work sites.
Fleet managers who oversee delivery operations can significantly improve communications and control while reducing costs by moving from legacy handheld computers to modern ruggedized PTT smartphones.
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