Fashion chain Gap Inc is speeding up its rollout of picking robots across its warehouses to fulfil online orders in a bid to ramp up productivity with less human contact.
Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics (SPPAL) has equipped New Zealand’s largest mail sorting centres with new Open Mail Handling Systems (OMSs) for flats sorting.
The new OMSs at New Zealand Post’s Auckland and Christchurch facilities can process up to 25,000 magazines, flats, small parcels, letters and postcards per hour.
“The wide range of mail types it can handle combined with its fast sequencing and sorting processes are what makes the Siemens technology especially impressive.” SPPAL said in a statement. “Whereas open or plastic-wrapped magazines previously had to be separately routed to manual sorting, for example, the new system is able to handle these items automatically.”
Vanessa Ellis, General Manager – Network Transformation, New Zealand Post noted that the company is very satisfied with the systems, and the implementation of the project.
“Siemens’ high-performance technology enables us to process a very large range of mail types and formats processed in New Zealand, significantly enhancing our efficiency,” she said.
“The systems are connected to statistics software that allows us to monitor system capacity utilisation, providing a constant overview that lets us respond rapidly to changes.”
Michael Reichle, CEO, Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics, added: “We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to deliver our OMSs to New Zealand Post, a system proven worldwide that meets our customer’s high requirements in terms of efficiency, flexibility, ergonomics and customised solutions. The OMS is capable of processing a broader range of mail types and formats than any other sorting system on the market.”
New Zealand Post’s previously existing sorting machines will also be integrated into the overall system.
Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics (SPPAL) has installed six sorting machines at four mail sorting centres for Australia Post.
The Open Mail Handling Systems (OMSs) were installed in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, where they will be used to sort flats, plastic-wrapped magazines and small packages.
They assume the tasks performed for years by sorting machines previously supplied by Siemens.
“We needed to update our existing equipment to handle the large variety of mail coming through our sorting centres, so we selected Siemens’ OMS technology to maximise the volume of product that could be processed through automation,” said Jadd Brammall, Head of Processing, Australia Post.
“The equipment was delivered on time against a very aggressive schedule and our new OMSs have enabled us to significantly improve our efficiency and provide the best platform for meeting the future needs of the business.”
Michael Reichle, CEO, Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics, added: “The OMS is our answer to the demanding requirements our customers have to meet, as it’s capable of processing a broader range of mail types and formats than other sorting systems on the market.”
Five of the delivered OMSs are equipped with four input lines and 284 outlets for mail trays and can each sort up to 50,000 items per hour. The sixth OMS is fitted with two input lines and 148 outlets and can sort up to 25,000 items per hour. Barcode readers and printers are used in all six systems.
Chinese robot company Geek+ has raised RMB100 million ($18 million) in a funding round led by Vertex Venture, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.
The Beijing-based enterprise was founded in 2015 and its robots have been likened to the Kiva robots used by Amazon to automate processes in its distribution centres.
The money raised will be used to support the start-up’s research and development capabilities and expand its team and business.
Geek+ manufactures robots for use in warehouses by the logistics industry. They are capable of selecting, transporting and sorting packages and objects, and can move autonomously to aid human colleagues with tasks.
Business Standard reports that 300 of Geek+’s robots can already be found at work in a number of industries including e-commerce, retail and manufacturing in China, covering over 50,000sqm of warehouse space.
It is backed by several large names, including Alibaba whose TMall e-commerce platform it supported during China’s biggest shopping event – Singles’ Day by sorting millions of packages.
Postal IT and automation solutions provider Prime Vision has launched a new strategy for its regional division in Australia and New Zealand.
The new strategy responds to the challenges faced by postal and logistics operators in the region, enabling them to improve utilisation of their assets, track individual items from first mile to last mile, increase parcel processing capacity cost effectively and offer more delivery options to consumers.
The new portfolio of solutions includes asset tracking for cages, vehicles and items within cages, item tracking – for first mile to last mile – using printed electronics for identification instead of barcode, stamps or other indicia, a fully connected Internet of Postal Things (IoPT) platform connecting physical ‘things’ used in the operation, with gateways to enterprise systems, autonomous and assisted sorting solutions that combine Prime Vision’s recognition technology with robotics to sort parcels from point-to-point using mobile robots and smart mailboxes and home parcel lockers with secure access management solutions to enable controlled access by postal workers and confirmed acceptance by consumers.
Measurement accuracy is vital to ensure an efficient production process and determine the true cost of a product’s value.
It’s estimated that, each year, over $400 billion worth of goods are sold on the basis of a measurement in Australia.
Measurement inaccuracies are worryingly commonplace in the Australian transport and logistics industry.
The transport and logistics industry is worth more than $150 billion to the Australian economy representing in excess of 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
The costs involved in the shipping and delivery of goods is entirely dependent on measurements; inaccuracies can severely affect companies’ profits.
The Importance of a Measurement
Incorrect measurements may not make a huge difference on a case by case basis; but consider these inaccuracies when multiplied by the number of parcels distribution centres process in an hour, a month or a year.
For example, one of Australia Post’s large parcel sorting machines can process over 12,000 parcels every hour.
Recording the correct measurements of parcels is not only important in regards to billing and invoicing; it also determines whether the allocated parcels can fit on the delivery vehicle and how much this will cost the distributor.
The option of weight or size is important as road and air transport costs depend on the space occupied, by number of packages that can be carried as well as their weight.
Knowing the exact measurements allow carrier companies to optimise their loads and, in turn, reduce costs.
Measurement accuracy is regulated by The National Measurement Institute (NMI), Australia’s peak measurement organisation, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s primary standards of measurement and for providing the legal and technical framework for the dissemination of those standards across varying industries.
For each and every transaction made, the NMI’s trade measurement is there to ensure ‘you get what you pay for’ – meaning no loss in revenue or cost.
The NMI enforces its standards with regular checks and fines across all trade industries; in the past 12 months, they have recorded more than 1,000 complaints, issued 2,388 organisations with non-compliance notices and completed more than 40,000 tests for measurement and labelling accuracy.
So how much do these inaccuracies cost?
According to Jean-Michel Maclou, intralogistics and transport sales manager at SICK, carrier companies lose hundreds of thousands in revenue due to inaccurate measurements of packages.
This doesn’t take into consideration the larger of these companies who churn through 1000s of packages per hour.
UPS’s air hub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA sees approximately 95,000 parcels and documents sorted every hour, day after day – when you consider these figures, it’s clear that the accumulative lost revenue can quickly become astronomical.
How can postal and delivery companies combat this flaw in their system?
SICK’s Dimensioning, Weighing and Scanning systems (DWS VMS 420/520) aid revenue recovery, capture data for automated generation of transport documents and provide accurate measurements for load optimisation.
The SICK DWS system automatically enable an accurate price to be charged, based on either the weight or the volume, whichever is greater.
Clients who purchase a weighing system generally reduce revenue loss by $250,000 within just 12 months, with some paying back in half the anticipated time – just through recovered revenue.
Norsk-European technical director Gary Bartoletti claimed that SICK’s DWS systems have played a key role in the company’s operations.
“Previously we had to rely on customer-declared weights and dimensions to calculate charges which, unfortunately, were not always accurate.,” he said.
“Since the installation of SICK’s DWS systems, we have been able to capture correct weights and dimensions, and charge accordingly.”
Rapid revenue recovery can benefit all sizes of parcel and package carriers, from the smaller operations to those handling many thousands per hour, making the DWS an essential purchase.
Image: Angela Wiley