Royal Mail is introducing four new fully automated parcel sorting machines, adding nearly three quarters of a million parcels to its daily capacity.
The machines comprise a system of conveyor belts and scanning technology which can automatically sort parcels of up to 3kg for despatch to the required destination. Each machine can process around 10,000 parcels per hour and 180,000 per day.
The new machines will be rolled out in distribution centres in Tyneside, Medway, Nottingham and Southampton beginning next year. There are already 20 fully automated parcel machines across 16 mail centres in the country.
The purchase of the technology is part of Royal Mail’s strategy to adapt to more ecommerce parcel shipments and fewer letters. Royal Mail saw parcel volumes rise 34% in the five months to the end of August, but saw additional costs in transitioning its business from letters.
In particular, the carrier is mired in a battle with unions over proposed changes to working schedules, which it says are required to support the new model.
Simon Barker, national network and integration director at Royal Mail, said: “With the growth in online shopping, customers are showing an even greater appetite for parcels. This year alone has seen parcel volumes rise by 34% in the first five months of the year.
“Automating parcel sortation will enable us to meet this growing demand and transform our company into a parcels led delivery company that also delivers letters.
“We have already made significant strides towards this goal, having invested in the design and installation of 20 parcel sorting machines in 16 sites across the country.
“This automation technology is already fully operational and has increased the number of parcels sorted automatically on our network by a third. Our plan is to build on this and continue to increase the number of parcels automatically sorted in our network as parcel volumes continue to rise.”