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Post Danmark Boosts Mail-Collection Efficiency

The operator is using two-way 2.4 GHz RFID technology to track postal vehicles and mail pickup, in order to optimize routes, improve efficiency and reduce its vehicle fleet.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 27, 2012Danish postal operator Post Danmark—a branch of PostNord, which provides national postal services to Denmark and Sweden—is employing an RFID system that tracks the movements of postal vehicles and the emptying of mailboxes throughout the entire country, via transponders that both transmit and receive data upon coming within read range of each other. With the solution, provided by Danish startup Commotive, PostNord has been able to improve the accuracy of its pickup times at each mailbox, as well as optimize carrier routes and reduce the need for carriers and vehicles, according to Christian Østergaard, PostNord's head of business information and production alignment.

For about the past seven years, PostNord has been utilizing active RFID tags to track the movements of roll containers throughout Denmark. Since the agency first began using the technology to better manage those assets' locations, Østergaard says, it has eliminated the problem of missing roll containers (see Post Danmark to Tag its Roll Cages). In fact, he states, "we're drowning in carts now."

When a postal worker removes letters from a mailbox, an RFID tag mounted within senses that the door has been opened, thereby causing the tag to transmit its ID number and other data.

Approximately two years ago, Commotive approached Post Danmark with a solution that it promised would be less expense than one involving traditional active RFID tags and readers. A Commotive tag not only transmits a unique ID number and other information stored within its memory, but can also serve as a reader, and thereby receive data transmitted by other Commotive transponders.

Post Danmark was interested in using the technology to track its carrier routes throughout the nation. So in early 2011, the postal operator attached Commotive Z1 battery-operated 2.4 GHz transponders—which measure 80 millimeters by 95 millimeters by 25 millimeters (3.1 inches 3.7 by inches by 1 inch)—to the interior of the locked hatch of each of 7,700 public mailboxes. The organization also attached a Commotive Z3 tag (which comes with a built-in GPS unit) under the hood of each of its 3,800 carrier vehicles, wired to each vehicle's battery for power. Finally, the operator installed Commotive Z4 readers, with a wired connection to the server at the entrance of 400 Post Danmark buildings at which mail picked up from mailboxes is delivered to be sorted and shipped to other locations. All of Commotive's devices operate at 2.4 GHz, employing a proprietary air-interface protocol based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard.

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