external image globalhome_fedex_corp_logo.gif

Corporate History

In 1971, Federal Express Corporation, known as FedEx today was founded in Little Rock, Arkansas. The growth and success that this corporation portrays, has enabled it to become a large and well-known corporation such that it could be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1978. Presently, FedEx owns a network of companies worth $29 billion. These companies offer a range of services such as, transportation, e-commerce, and business solutions. Worldwide networks link FedEx to more than 220 countries and territories within a time span of 24-48 hours. The services that are offered by FedEx, have given customers the opportunity and ability to access products, services, information, people, and places more efficiently as well as easily.

external image allcompanies4754F.jpg

Integration of Technology

FedEx integrates the use of both old and new technology to perform and provide services to its customers. FedEx is becoming digitally innovative by expanding and adding new facilities worldwide. FedEx also integrates Wireless Solutions, Bluetooth, and RFID, which help to locate facilities such as stations for loading/unloading, dispatch centers and customer packages. FedEx’s use of old technology and the adoption to new technology helps to achieve its company’s goal: “to provide its customers with a service that is fast-paced, efficient and reliable that benefits both the business and its customers” (FedEx 2006).

Without the Internet, FedEx would not have been able to prosper. “Internet Technology adoption has helped us meet service levels with our customers and it is one of our key strategies to acquire and retain customers” (Express Computer 2004). FedEx’s website allows its customers and business partners to have access to information regarding shipment process, locations, tracking, freight services, and expedited services. The Internet “provides fast, easy and convenient service options for FedEx customers” (FedEx 2006). Ever since FedEx adopted Internet technology, it has currently integrated Wireless and Bluetooth Solutions.

Wireless Solutions & Bluetooth

FedEx has implemented wireless technology which enables efficient package tracking and package scanning for both its business and its customers. “Wireless technology lets these companies shave off precious seconds throughout the delivery process” (Gruman 2004). This technology adoption offers efficiency, productivity, and increased communication between customers and the business.

Package Tracking

The implementation of wireless technology keeps customers informed about package whereabouts. This process is called package tracking which makes use of SuperTracker Technology. “Wireless Solutions is easy to track the status of your FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Freight shipments or find the nearest FedEx Express drop-off location using your Web-enabled wireless device - anytime, anywhere” (FedEx 2006). FedEx benefits from package tracking by using web-enabled devices such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), and pagers to notify its customers about the location of their package. The WAP phone provides limited Internet content to mobile phones as the basis for communication between drivers and the business. Thus, FedEx’s shippers and receivers still use these web-enabled SuperTracker Technology devices for package tracking but integrate the use of RFID as part of their new technology implementation as mentioned in the sections below.

Package Scanning

FedEx Express and FedEx Ground perform the process of package scanning from pickup to delivery at every step of the shipping process. “FedEx uses wireless data collection devices to scan bar codes on shipments” (FedEx 2006). The packages’ barcode is scanned to record time, destination, and delivery information that are immediately updated on FedEx’s supercomputer for its customers to retrieve. This offers customers ‘convenience’ to track the status of their shipment in the transport process using FedEx’s RFID technology. For example, a customer can enter their parcel reference number on the FedEx website and immediately identify the location of their parcel.

Microsoft PowerPad & Bluetooth

FedEx currently uses a Bluetooth radio to send package information – a data collection device for couriers called the PowerPad. The FedEx PowerPad is a Microsoft Windows-Powered Pocket PC that works by scanning a package and the PowerPad immediately uploads information such as signatures, proof of delivery, and time stamp into the FedEx network. “The PowerPad incorporates a micro-radio for hands-free communication with a printer and mobile computer in the courier's delivery vehicle” (FedEx PowerPad 2003). The PowerPad enables FedEx to retrieve current information about customer package delivery. This boosts courier efficiency and maximizes package visibility, thus, saving time for both FedEx and its customers.

Digital Pen

FedEx also uses a digital pen that incorporates a wireless transceiver and infrared camera that takes images of user writing patterns.

The digital pen is a device that enables FedEx to take handwritten information and transform it into digital data in a way that is completely unobtrusive and requires no behavioral changes on the part of our customers (FedEx PowerPad 2003).

This provides security and proof of a user’s inputted information and is immediately transmitted in real time. “Digital data can be sent via general packet radio service (GPRS) to another mobile phone, PC, personal digital assistant (PDA), fax machine or other information bank” (FedEx PowerPad 2003). The adoption of Bluetooth wireless technology tends to offer FedEx’s customers and businesses with efficiency, productivity, and cost reduction. FedEx faces problems using the Bluetooth technology – “signal interference from its 3-year-old 802.11b network, which used the same frequency, as well as from the radio noise emitted from sorting belts' engines and from the lights” (Gruman 2004). Technically, the use of the digital pen offers reliability of information and reduces paper waste.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

FedEx has been using RFID technology since 1999. FedEx Ground currently uses wireless RFID technology for asset tracking in a business to consumer (B2C) environment. RFID makes the leap from the old handheld scanners to the new Bluetooth Pocket PCs making FedEx the efficiency expert. “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an integrated technology allowing businesses to easily monitor the arrival and automatically retrieve data” (Wikipedia 2006). For example, if a shipper wants to know where Customer A’s package is, the shipper just has to enter a reference number into the Pocket PC and it will directly tell you where the package is located in inventory.
The use of RFID helps to reduce inventory overload in storage as well as the tracking and monitoring of shipments. “FedEx, using Bluetooth and GPRS, ensures efficient dissemination of information in which customers are able to clearly locate packages in shipment” (Emigh 2004). Tracking enables one to locate packages in a country, storage/inventory or in delivery. Hence, it is like a secret key to the transportation process. For instance, a customer sent a parcel to his friend in China, but would like to know where it is – this can be found using a RFID tag that will obtain information that the parcel is on the FedEx Ground truck crossing Country ‘X’.

Velcro Wristband RFID

FedEx adopted Velcro Wristband RFID transponders for couriers to restructure FedEx’s delivery process. “FedEx uses an automatic keyless entry and ignition system” (TIRIS Group 2004). The wristband offers FedEx’s delivery employee a ‘hands-free’ vehicle access rather than having to scramble around to find keys while holding customer packages. The wristband is beneficial to FedEx because it provides efficiency for the couriers to get products out to their customers without difficulty. Thus, RFID is an efficient tracking device for FedEx in terms of inventory as well as providing its customers with speed, reliability, and visibility.

external image Fedexwristband.jpg

Related Links

Works Cited

Emigh, Jacqueline. “FedEx Ground Steps to Bluetooth and GPRS Wireless”.
Enterprise News and Reviews: E-Week. November 14, 2004. 10 February 2006.

Express Computer. “Logistics vendors reap technology harvest”. 12 July 2004. 10 February 2006. <http://www.expresscomputeronline.com/20040712/indiatrends01.shtml>.

FedEx. “About FedEx: Wireless Solutions”. 2006. 10 February 2006.

FedEx. “About FedEx: Wireless Solutions”. 2006. 10 February 2006.

FedEx. “About FedEx: Wireless Solutions”. 2006. 10 February 2006.

FedEx. “FedEx Corporation Facts”. 2006. 24 February 2006.

FedEx. “FedEx Corporate History”. 2006. 24 February 2006.

FedEx. “FedEx Historical Timeline”. 2006. 24 February 2006.<http://www.fedex.com/us/about/today/history/timeline.html#5>.

FedEx. “FedEx Insight & Freight Services”. 2006. 10 February 2006.

FedEx PowerPad. “FedEx: The write stuff! New technology takes pen and ink
Digital!” Anotogroup. 2003. 14 February 2006. <http://www.anotogroup.com/cldoc/13680.htm>

Gruman, Galen. “UPS vs. FedEx: Head-to-Head on Wireless”. CIO
Magazine. 1 June 2004. 14 February 2006. <http://www.cio.com/archive/060104/ups.html>.

TIRIS Group. “Case Study: RFID Federal Express”. Texas Instruments. 30 June 2004. 12 February 2006. <http://www.simm.org.sg/rfid_addinfo.asp?uid=4>

Wikipedia. “RFID”. 2006. 6 February 2006.

Images courtesy of:
Logo: http://www.fedex.com/
FedEx Transportation: http://www.fedex.com/us/about/
Velcro Wristband: http://www.ti.com/rfid/graphics/newsImages/Fedex.jpg