U-Ship Combines Technologies In Self-Service Shipping Kiosks
For many of Dade Behring's customers, next-day delivery is not good enough. The $1.3 billion laboratory instrument manufacturer often has to ensure same-day delivery. Integrating technologies with its new SAP system helps Dade Behring deliver the goods on time.
Self-Service Shipping Kiosks Are An Alternative To Carriers
So what's a harried customer to do? Increasingly, the answer seems to be in the form of the Automated Shipping Center (ASC), a package-shipping solution from U-Ship International. Combining computer and bar-code technology with a dose of entrepreneurship, U-Ship has set up a growing network of job self-service kiosks. These offer small businesses and self-employed workers an automated alternative to Uncle Sam's hands-on, hold-on approach to parcel delivery. Founded in 1993, U-Ship now has 325 self-service shipping kiosks in the U.S. and Canada, located primarily in office-supply stores, copier centers, and supermarkets.
How The Kiosk Works
As customers approach the desk-size kiosk, they activate a proximity sensor, which automatically triggers a greeting. Customers are then guided step by step through the self-service shipping procedure via a series of touch-screen and audio prompts. In a few minutes, the kiosk automatically weighs and prices a package and offers a choice of payment options. It then electronically verifies credit card transactions, records the type of package desired and its destination, and automatically calculates the cost of insurance coverage. When the process is completed, a Datamax DMX-PM42 thermal bar-code system prints a self-adhesive address label and a customer receipt that aids in package tracking. Customers then deposit their package in the kiosk's drop box.
Selecting A Bar Code Printer For The Kiosk
Ease of maintenance was a key consideration when the company evaluated bar-code label printers. A company spokesman stated, "We wanted a system that could be easily loaded and maintained by non-technical personnel. The alternative would have required us to outsource the service to a third party - a very costly proposition."
Reliability was another concern. A previously-installed bar-code printer had failed repeatedly to meet UPS label standards because its print head was unable to generate a high-resolution image. Datamax engineers then stepped in, working with U-Ship to choose the optimum printer-paper combination and developing 2-D UPS-compliant bar code symbology. The result, says a company spokesman, "is a crisp, legible mailing label. We're operating a nationwide network of shipping kiosks remotely, without an attendant. We can't afford to have problems with reliability."