Swiss Post automates mail tracking with RFID technology

Danish firm Lyngsoe Systems has provided Swiss Post with a new fully-automated real-time track-and-trace system for its mail containers. The Material Management solution uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to eliminate manual scanning activities and provide full visibility on the flow of Swiss Post’s mail containers through its network.

Swiss Post was the first in the world to choose the Lyngsoe solution for postal flow control, as it strives to improve the efficiency of its handling of more than 2.3bn letters a year. But, the company said a few more operators are now looking to use this kind of system.

The new Lyngsoe system sees RFID tags placed on all of Swiss Post’s mail containers to provide end-to-end track and trace capability for containers and onboard mail trays.

With containers uniquely identified by their RFID tags, the system can also link individual containers to another load bearer, to nest mail trays to the containers via an existing barcode on the tray.

Along with RFID tags on tens of thousands of mail containers, implementation of the Lyngsoe solution has seen more than 700 RFID Portals installed above all gates at 47 sites across the Swiss Post domestic network.

Installation took about nine months in planned phases, with the system starting up this summer.

Marc Dasen, the IT project manager at Swiss Post, said the new system, part of an integrated IT solution, would allow his company to improve logistics processes and thereby provide customers with the best available service quality.

“We have 70,000 mail containers carrying mail throughout Switzerland,” he said. “The Quick Mount RFID Portals from Lyngsoe Systems fit perfectly in the integrated IT solution that will provide Swiss Post with a complete inventory and flow overview of these containers.”

In future, the Swiss Post system may also be fitted with a load control system to automatically ensure the right roll containers are loaded onto the right truck.

“Intelligent solution”

Bo Helmer Larsen of Lyngsoe Systems says the RFID technology can tell where mail containers really are, in real time

Aars-based Lyngsoe has been producing track-and-trace systems for a range of industries for more than 40 years, but Bo Helmer Larsen, its director of sales, told Post&Parcel today that the Swiss Post system was a very significant project.

He said one of the key attributes for the technology was to integrate with Swiss Post’s existing data capture systems, to allow the nesting of mail containers for better planning and operations.

With its integration of the RFID tags with barcode systems, the system can track empty and full containers.

Helmer Larsen said the fully automated solution meant “amazing new possibilities” for inventory management and real-time tracking.

“It’s an intelligent solution that records directionality of your containers,” he said. “This means that you know if the load has really left your unit, or is delayed for production or transport, and where it is truly situated at any moment.

“It gives you a competitive edge on accuracy in real time production execution, and helps you reduce costs considerably,” he said.

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