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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
Once the system was installed, PostNord identified other business cases for the technology. The tracking of the vehicles' movements—based on GPS data stored on the Commotive transponders—has enabled Post Danmark to research which vehicles are in use more than others, which remain inactive, or in what cases several vehicles are being operated along the same route when only one would suffice. In that way, Østergaard says, the operator has reduced its fleet of vehicles by 350 vehicles—or about 10 percent.

Christian Østergaard, PostNord's head of business information and production alignment
The technology also provided an unexpected benefit: When a mailbox was stolen, the Commotive technology enabled PostNord's staff to locate it the following day, within a wooded area beside a country road. Because the mailbox's Z1 tag continued transmitting whenever it detected a signal emitted by a passing postal vehicle's Z3 tag, it transmitted its ID number to that vehicle's tag, and at the end of the day, once that information was retrieved in the server, the agency was able to determine the mailbox's precise location, based on those transmissions and GPS data from the vehicle's tag. Based on this event, Østergaard says, the operator is now considering offering a finding service to other companies or individuals looking to tag their assets with Commotive tags for locating purposes. Because carrier vehicles cover so much territory within Denmark, they would eventually be expected to read that tag ID, at which time PostNord could report the location to the asset's owner. Such a system, however, is currently only at the discussion stage.

According to Østergaard, PostNord is presently testing a solution in Sweden, supplied by Lyngsoe Systems (the same company that is providing RFID technology for tracking roll containers throughout Denmark), involving the use of active RFID tags and readers to track the timeliness with which mailboxes are emptied in a small area of that country. However, he notes, the postal operator has not yet chosen to expand the system throughout Sweden, and PostNord has yet to decide which solution to deploy.

When it comes to the rolling containers being tracked via Lyngsoe's active RFID tags, readers and exciters, Østergaard says, the tag batteries are beginning to reach the end of their lifespan, and the operator will soon need to decide whether to continue using that technology on the cages, which would require replacing the batteries, or replacing the tags with another technology, such as Commotive's solution. The battery life of a Z1 tag's four AA batteries is typically two years, he says. The battery status of Z1 tags attached to mailboxes is collected by the Z3 tags of passing postal vehicles, in order to determine which batteries may be running low.

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