Now Ups Customers Will Have To Sign On The Dotted Screen

United Parcel Service Inc. is tired of taking a backseat to rival Federal Express Corp.'s advanced computerized delivery technology. So the company has launched a $350 million program to provide its delivery people with handheld computers.

The Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) was developed by two wholly owned UPS subsidiaries. DIAD plans the drivers' routes and provides other delivery information and almost completely eliminates paperwork, since a pen-like stylus allows package recipients to sign for their delivery directly onto the 11-by-14-inch unit. At the end of the day, drivers can connect DIAD by phone to a UPS corporate data center in Paramus, N. J., to transmit information about the day's work and retrieve instructions for tomorrow's route. UPS says it designed the computers so that they'll keep working in almost any kind of weather--including rain, snow, sleet, and, of course, dark of night.

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