UPS Adopts HP Paperless Printing Solution for Package Processing

UPS announced this month it will deploy a new combination scanner and paperless printing device developed by HP that will print millions of sorting labels directly on packages, helping Brown make further inroads on greening their operations by slashing its consumption of paper while reducing costs at the same time.
Called the HP Handheld sp400 all-in-one (kinda rolls off the tongue) The innovative device offers UPS a win-win situation by increasing efficiency and reducing waste.
“Leveraging technology innovation is critical in today’s tough, competitive economy,” said Dave Barnes, senior vice president and CIO of UPS. “The new HP handheld device means increased efficiency and effectiveness at a lower cost, with less waste. This is a perfect example of how technology helps to drive business solutions at UPS.”
Once fully deployed, the printer/scanner will save over 1,300 tons of paper annually, with millions of dollars in operational savings for UPS.
The device is currently in use in 41 U.S. processing centers, with plans to expand to a total of 850 printers in 55 centers by the end of the year. The company expects to process 1.5 million packages with the new system by mid-2009. By 2010 3.1 million packages should be handled using the device.

How it works
The HP handheld device brings the label printing device to the package, instead of the old way of bringing the package to the device(s), which included a PC, large thermal printer, and scanner.
With the new system, the wireless, wearable device works in concert with UPS’s Package Flow Technology for optimal route planning. The PFT system designs delivery routes that minimizes left-hand turns for the driver (see our earlier post on the UPS Telematics system), and also provides specific instructions telling the loader the exact spot to load the package on the truck for delivery the next day.
When a package enters a UPS sorting facility, an employee scans the shipping label with the HP sp400, which then retrieves, via a WiFi network, the correct sorting information from a UPS database. That information is then printed directly onto the package using a specially formulated, fast-drying ink.
The device not only eliminates the bulky computer/monitor/printer/scanner setup from before, it is also easier to use, improves package processing time, and reduces the rate of mislabeled packages to “virtually zero”. Training new employees on the new system is made more efficient as well, with a training “manual” consisting of a single page.
From Telematics, to its data center operations and innovative fleet of vehicles, UPS continues to show how seeking out sustainability solutions makes the most business sense.
It’s where Brown meets Green.

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

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