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Because flagship automated sorting systems are undeniably glamorous, it is easy to overlook the huge potential efficiency improvements that can be achieved by optimising manual handling operations and maximising cubic fill.
The rapid growth of parcel volumes has forced companies to invest in automated sorting equipment to achieve greater efficiencies. However, while product mix and volumes have changed rapidly in the past years, many postal operators are still today working with Manual Handling Equipment (MHE) such as roll containers that were designed more than twenty years ago. With automated sorting, a large part of the operational costs in parcel or letter terminals is currently caused by slow or inefficient manual handling activities.
Mixing of parcels streams – There is also a move to merge letters and parcels streams to find new operational synergies. As a result, postal operators are now considering e.g. multi-terminals as well as new types of vehicles that can handle different streams including letters, parcels and pallets. As many posts have traditionally treated mail and parcels as separate streams, also the MHE have not been designed to merge in terminals or transportation. Therefore, to fully realise the benefits of multi-stream operations in the future it makes sense to consider the benefits of parcel and letter containers that can co-exist effectively. Ideally MHE should facilitate a fast loading and unloading of parcels and letters, provide the flexibility to combine postal streams effectively where needed – and of course maximise cubic fill in transportation.
LEAN Postal Concept There is not one right solution to fit every company’s needs and business environment, but one good example of this development is the new manual handling concept (or product family) “LEAN postal concept” developed by K.Hartwall that addresses the need for effective manual handling, flexibility across postal streams and high cubic fill. The new concept is derived from automotive industry where K.Hartwall has for years been working with companies like Bosch and Schaeffler to design and implement lean material flow processes.
“The innovation is the combination of a wheeled equipment and double stacking, reducing waste and bringing new level of cubic fill in vehicles. Furthermore, one common platform allows stacking of different postal streams such as letter trays with parcels or pallets, helping our customers to utilize their vehicles to the max” says Eero Heinonen, Head of Business Unit Postal at K.Hartwall.
LEAN Postal concept enables efficient manual handling and combining of different postal streams, while allowing double stacking in transportation. Besides faster loading and unloading, the big benefit comes from higher cubic fill. When compared to traditional parcel roll containers, the cubic efficiency in vehicles can be improved up to 30-50% by double stacking and return logistics is at times up to 5 times more effective.
Today, every forward-thinking company is busy making their “2020 plan”. When considering supply chain efficiency, MHE is a critical piece of the total cost puzzle. The ability to handle and transport different postal streams efficiently would provide a real and sustainable competitive advantage, flexibility to react for what the future brings as well as new business opportunities.