An innovative solution installed by Sick for an international postal service operator helped improve sorting accuracy while minimising re-work caused by mis-sorts.
Sick installed their Ruler E 3D camera system in combination with the Item Detection for Logistics (IDL) software system to enhance the efficiency of the client’s sorting system.
An international postal service provider required a solution that would detect packages on a cross-belt sorter moving at high conveying speeds so that the parcels were sorted into various sorter chutes correctly, ensuring the correct mail carrier received the mail on time.
- Mail flow inspection needed to be automated to enable correct identification of multiple packages on the sorter cell
- Customer’s automated package processing system needed to adjust its operation to correct for the multiple mail condition
- Package position and dimensioning was requested to enable the sorter to more accurately discharge the parcel by adjusting the timing of the sorter discharge and ensuring the mail items did not miss their destination bin
- Varying package forms ranging from large to very small packages, thin mail, sacks and bags added to the complication
Mis-sorts were a critical problem in the customer’s existing processing system. The logistics company sorted bulk mail to zip code resolution. For a variety of reasons, multiple packages can be on the same sort cell at the same time.
Discharge of multiples based on address recognition of one item results in a mis-sort. The mis-sorted item will then require additional labour and shipping costs, and could impact the service standard of the item.
Singulation verification/doubles detection improves accuracy
Sick implemented two of their solutions to improve the sorting problem of the client.
Sick used a combination of the Sick 3D camera, known as the Ruler and Sick’s Item Detection for Logistics software application as part of their solution.
The camera was installed above the cross-belt sorter immediately after the inductions so that detected doubles were identified prior to the applicable cell reaching the first discharge location, such that it allowed for early correction in the mail processing.
The Ruler uses a line scanning process to create 3D images that can be used to accurately determine the physical characteristics of the mail, including the double mail condition even in diverse mail streams. Package data such as dimensions, volume and position can be correctly determined.
The image data is transferred to the system control unit, which performs the product determinations and provides a clean data message for each sorter cell.
Key advantages of Sick’s sortation accuracy improvement system
- Improved the sorting performance of the customer’s automated package processing system
- Doubles have been almost eliminated
- Sorter accuracy performance is optimised
- Reduced errors in the sorting process, improving the quality of mail delivery
- Cost of processing complaints and rectifying delivery errors can be avoided
- Reduced handling and shipping costs
- Improved process quality