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Saudi Post Updates RFID System for Carriers

Saudi Post is updating its RFID mail tracking system to use handheld computers that have RFID reading and GPS functionality. Mail carriers use the handhelds to record pickups from RFID-enabled mailboxes, and sample letters with embedded RFID tags are tracked in processing centers.
Mar 05, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

March 5, 2009—Mail carriers for Saudi Post are getting new handheld computers with RFID readers to provide real-time proof of delivery and other mail tracking enhancements. The CN3 computers from Intermec also have integrated GPS and are used to provide real-time updates on carrier location and activity.

"As soon as a postal worker makes a delivery, they can use their Intermec CN3 to synchronize and update our database. There is no longer the need to wait for them to return at the end of the day," Majed Bin Anzzan, e-business director at Saudi Post, said in Intermec's announcement. "Additionally, the new solution will significantly increase customer satisfaction as it enables us to immediately show our customers that a letter or package has been delivered as the confirmation of delivery is detailed on the Saudi Post website."

Mail sorting machines and carrier operations are integrated with Saudi Post's customer relationship management (CRM) system to provide customers with real-time visibility of mail status. Saudi Post previously used separate in-vehicle computers, handheld passive UHF RFID readers and vehicle location components before upgrading its system and bundling these features into a single handheld computer. RFID reading capabilities are now provided by Intermec's IP30, a cradle-like device that attaches to the CN3.

In this undated presentation to the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bin Anzzan describes Saudi Post's plans to install 10 million RFID-enabled "E-Boxes" throughout the kingdom. The embedded RFID tags in the E-Boxes are apparently read each time carriers make pickups or deliveries. Saudi Post had installed 1 million E-Boxes at the time of the presentation.

The new handheld computing system and related applications give Saudi Post tracking and reporting capabilities like those offered by major parcel carrier services. Other postal and parcel organizations use RFID, but not typically for carrier operations. Instead, the technology has been successfully deployed to track totes and other assets used in distribution facilities, and integrated with sorting and distribution systems to monitor flow. For examples, see Ándale! Spain's Postal Service Deploys RFID and In Finland, Your (RFID) Chip's in the Mail. The Saudi Post presentation described a similar application for tracing test letters. Last year IDTechEx, an RFID market research and consulting firm, predicted the postal and parcel sector would eventually be the second-largest market for RFID systems, after supply chain.
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