India to improve mail quality with next-generation sorting centres
India’s communications minister Sh Kapil Sibal dedicated a new Automated Mail Processing Centre (AMPC) in Delhi this morning. The government said the new mail plant was an “important milestone” for the Department of Posts in efforts to modernize the mail processing operations at India Post.
Delhi’s first class and express mail was previously handled by more than 12 smaller mail sorting centers, but the mail processing operations for the whole city has now been consolidated into the new AMPC, which can process 1m mail pieces per day in total.
Construction of the new plant took place from October 2010 to the following October, with a 7,000 square metre building developed on a 10,000 square metre site. Nearly 500 staff are based at the facility, working in three shifts.
The new facility includes a INR 420m ($7.55m USD) investment in a letter sorting machine and mixed mail sorter system, which use optical character recognition (OCR) technology and a video coding system (VCS) to read addresses and sort items for the correct destination.
The new letter sorting machine can sort 35,000 letters per hour, while the mixed mail sorter can process 20,000 letters, packets and small parcels an hour.
The automated sorting systems should “considerably” improve sorting errors and improve the quality of mail services, the government said, with the new mixed mail sorter scanning tracking barcodes automatically as items are being sorted. Processing efficiency should also improve because mail can be sorted in a single run, while manual sorting had required a second stage of sorting.
“The sorting machines of AMPC Delhi are the new generation machines compared to the letter sorting machines installed at AMPC Mumbai in 1993 and at AMPC Chennai in 1996, which did not have the automatic address reading ability and were dependent on coders to code all the mail pieces for sending to their destinations,” said the government.
The new AMPC in Delhi improves the speed of mail processing and also the quality, while state-of-the-art facilities for employees should improve staff productivity and motivation levels, the government added.
The new plant has a work flow designed like an assembly line, with unprocessed mail entering the site from one end, with sorted mail dispatched at the other.
The government said a similar mail processing plant has now been set up in Calcutta, and will be inaugurated in a few weeks’ time.
German engineering giant Siemens said its postal technology was behind the new automated mail processing centres in both Delhi and Calcutta, with the systems installed by its Mobility Division.
The automation route will “significantly” reduce processing time and save “considerable” cost for the Indian postal department, the company said.
The machines use an integrated reading and Video Coding machine (IVR) to read bar codes or hand-written addresses on letters line by line, reading any of four different languages.
“Handwriting or language is no longer a barrier as the special IVR by Siemens can read various scripts e.g. Greek, Cyrilic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Hindi. For the postal centers at Delhi and Kolkata, this machine will be able to read English and Hindi and as a result will enable Department of Post to provide better and more efficient services with high level of productivity,” the company said.