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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
With the system in place, each mailbox's Z1 tag utilizes a sensor that detect the opening of the hatch at the front of the mailbox, thereby indicating that the box is being accessed by a mail carrier. Every time this occurs, the tag stores that event in its 250 kilobits of memory, and also stores the ID numbers and GPS coordinates of the Z3 vehicle tags that have passed within its read range, as well as related timestamps. The Z1 transponder transmits all that data whenever its mailbox's door is opened, and whenever it detects a transmission from a Z3 tag of a passing postal carrier vehicle. The read range for Commotive's system is 100 meters to 200 meters (328 feet to 656 feet).

When a carrier vehicle returns to or merely passes any of the PostNord buildings, Z4 readers mounted on the facilities' walls download all data from that vehicle's Z3 tag. The devices then forward that information to the server via a wired connection, thereby updating information regarding where the vehicle has been (based on GPS data), as well as which mailboxes it passed, which ones the driver opened and when this occurred.

Commotitve's Z1 tag
PostNord has been using this data to improve its carrier pickup times. For example, a specific pickup time is displayed on every mailbox, and the software data lists when the pickup actually occurred, thus enabling the agency to identify when pickup times are off-schedule. What's more, the organization can utilize the RFID and GPS data to improve its carrier routes, by analyzing how long it takes to reach each box, the route taken and any conditions (such as traffic or weather) that might create delays.

Although that data is currently only being reviewed by PostNord's management, Østergaard says, the operator hopes in the future to make this information available to the public, so that individuals can see exactly when carriers have emptied specific mail boxes. During the year since the system's installation, Post Danmark has modified its mail-collecting procedures, based on the RFID data collected. As a result of these modifications, Østergaard says, pickup time accuracy is now above 99 percent. "We've become very precise," he states. "We had a pretty high quality [tracking accuracy] before as well, but we had a hard time proving it. We estimate that we have improved our overall [mailbox] collection quality by 0.5 percent." An improvement by half a percentage point, he says, "is a lot at that level."

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