June 25, 2019
Many parcel operators have a long operational history and, as a result, also an existing fleet of legacy load carriers that were not built for the speed and automation of today’s operations. Posti is replacing old parcel cages with more efficient alternatives to improve its operations.
When visiting the Finnish national postal operator Posti Group in summer 2016, we analysed its operations and identified areas for improvement including the Parcel cages. The solution in place was a very robust unit and provided great truck fill when stacked with a smaller cage but was also very time-consuming and unergonomic to operate as it needed to be disassembled when empty and reassembled before filling.
To get the ball rolling, we began by making initial time- and space savings calculations considering that the current unit being replaced with a foldable cage. The decision to move forward was a no-brainer as the benefits were clear and the target price promised an attractive payback time for the investment.
K. Hartwall then designed and manufactured the first prototype and sent it for review and testing. The functionalities, ergonomics and health and safety issues were carefully analyzed and feedback was gathered from different stakeholders such as sorting centre employees, truck drivers, trade unions and HR department. Major factor was compatibility with current infrastructure and material handling equipment such as forklifts, tipping machines and other load carriers.
Based on the feedback we further improved the unit to maximize the benefits, including 100% tipping performance, eliminating all possible H&S issues and ensuring full compatibility with all factors in the supply chain. The final version was accepted and the first batch of 500 units was delivered to Posti in autumn 2018.
The feedback. ”The labour cost savings are good, but actually space savings is the most important benefit, as it will allow us to skip an entire non-value adding step in our process, bringing significant value in many ways”, says Janne Mattila, Production Manager at Posti. With the new Parcel Cage, there is no need for a separate area for building the cages and transporting the units one-by-one, instead Posti can bring full stacks of folded cages straight to sorting chutes and even take them into use in place when side by side in sorting. Currently Posti builds 8to 10 trailers of demounted cages every day for the evening shift.
Mattila continues, ”First we kept the units in closed loop to ensure that they work technically and that they can withstand our rough daily handling. As we have seen, there are absolutely no issues, they are now moving freely in our network”. When asked if the new collapsing functionalities had created change resistance in users, Mattila replied, ”On the contrary, using the unit has proved to be very simple and ergonomic. There has been no negative feedback from the field at all.”
Based on both a strong business case and very good operational feedback Posti will continue to invest in the new Parcel cage, the next batch is produced this spring at K.Hartwall’s main factory in Finland for delivery in June 2019. ”If you ask those of us in the operations, we would replace all current cages immediately with the new ones”, says Mattila.
”This is exactly how we want to work with our customers”, says Eero Heinonen, head of Business Unit Postal & Logistics, ”To listen to them, understand their needs and bring new innovative solutions that bring measurable benefits”.
Head of BU Postal & Logistics