Software Nerd

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tracking Shipments

Has this ever happened to you...
You're expecting a shipment via one of the big shippers (UPS, Fedex, etc.) and need to sign for it. You cannot stay home to receive it; and, it would be inconvenient to drive to the pick-up center later in the evening. .However, if you had an approximate idea of when it would arrive you could be there to receive it. It's happened to me a few times, and I think it's time UPS et al did something about it.

The tracking info they provide on their sites is good. On the morningof the day the shipment is going to arrive, one will normally see something like:

7:18am LEFT UPS Dock for Delivery

That's the last useful tracking item. The next will say "Delivered".

The couriers have done a good job wrapping a user-interface around their package-status system. Now, they need to add a tiny interface to their routing system.

When a driver leaves on a delivery, he has a route with various stops/drops. There's also an estimated time on all these. All the essential elements are already in place at the bigger couriers. All that's required is to pull one peice out and display it to the user: estimated delivery time.

Even better would be to have the estimated time being constantly updated as the driver does his rounds and marks his drops as being completed. It's simple enough, a comparison of the time of the last drop and the estimated time of that drop tells how slow or fast he's running and allows all upcoming drops to be re-estimated.

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