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Deutsche Post Offers RFID-based Envelope Tracking for International Mail

The postal carrier's customers in Germany can attach tags to envelopes and similarly sized parcels, in order to receive updates regarding their shipments' whereabouts.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 16, 2015

Deutsche Post (DP), the postal group of Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL), began using EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology this month to offer its customers—specifically, those that ship goods abroad in envelopes and small packages—a window into those shipments' arrivals at and departures from its international sorting facility in Frankfurt. This has enabled the postal carrier to help its customers identify when packages are likely to reach their destinations in another country. DP provides status updates when its customers' shipments arrive at facilities within 16 destination countries, which already have RFID readers and antennas installed. Other postal operators are currently in the process of installing them at the request of the International Post Corp. (IPC), a cooperative association of 24 national postal services for countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America.

DP is the largest mail services operator in Europe. It carries mail and lightweight merchandise shipments internationally, and generated €1 billion ($1.09 billion) worth of revenue last year. All of DP's international mail shipments pass through the company's Frankfurt sortation facility before being transported to the destination country via truck or airplane.

Lyngsoe Systems' LS4200 RFID reader portals capture the IDs of tags attached to the small items that pass through DP's international hub in Frankfurt.
RFID infrastructure is not new to the postal carrier. Like other IPC members, Deutsche Post has installed UHF RFID readers at key locations, so it can more easily monitor the quality of international mail service. In addition, DP has deployed UHF readers at its international mail terminal to monitor and improve internal processes.

DP's international hub in Frankfurt has implemented Lyngsoe Systems LS4200 RFID reader portals with integrated antennas, in order to capture the ID numbers of tags attached to the small items that pass through its sortation system.

"Beginning this year, we thought about how to commercialize what we had in place," says Dirk Pandikow, DP's VP of product management mail export and direct entry. The offering is known as Ländernachweis (a German word meaning "proof of country"). "In the parcel world, each parcel has a bar code to be tracked. The sender knows—via the bar-code scans—when the parcel is shipped and when it is received," Pandikow explains, describing the process of shipping items to international destinations. "Goods shipped in mail items without registered services are completely blind between posting by the sender and arrival at the receiver's address."

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