Canada Post is a leading provider of delivery solutions in the Canadian marketplace. Consisting of a vast network of people, processes, systems, infrastructures and partnerships, Canada Post brings together Canadian consumers and businesses through a seamless exchange of goods and ideas. Canada Post has over 66,000 employees, a vast retail network of over 7,000 post offices, nearly one million points of access and over 6,000 vehicles. Canada Post systems and processes control the delivery of more than 37 million mailpieces each day to a delivery network capable of reaching more than 13 million points of delivery. Canada Post�s extended family, called the Canada Post Group of Companies, includes Purolator, Progistix, Assured Logistics, Intelcom Courier, Canada Post International Ltd. and epost. The Group �not only enhances our ability to meet the more complex needs of today�s customers but also provides access to new avenues of revenue and strategic advantage.�
Canada Post�s focus on the parcel business is becoming even greater as the marketplace evolves. As part of a broad-based parcel processing plan to re-position Canada Post in the Canadian parcel marketplace, the Gateway Bulk Mail Facility in Mississauga, Ontario, has re-examined key assumptions in parcel processing, leading to the installation of a new Large Parcel Sorter and adopting barcode technology. Concurrently, Canada Post has been undergoing a significant business transformation, moving to a process-based management model and incorporating �Lean Manufacturing� tools such as Value Stream Mapping, 5S and Kaizen activities.
Bold Changes Include New Infrastructure
Leading edge innovative processes are required to meet the challenges of the future. To be successful, these processes have to reduce cycle time, consolidate work centers and reduce inventories. The processes have to take up less space, lead to improved quality and reduce processing and transportation costs. This means changes that would incorporate the introduction of barcoding technology, increase loose-loading of incoming and outgoing parcels, improve streaming of product and reduce dependence on forklifts and other mechanized material handling equipment.
The prominent infrastructure necessary to support the now obsolete parcel sorting machines once defined the processing parameters of the Canada Post facility. The old system depended on forklifts to offload, load and induct parcels in steel cages known as monotainers. It also depended on tractors to move cages of sorted parcels from an expansive network of runouts to the dispatch docks. The old system utilized teams of people tasked with keying postal codes and a carousel system to deliver parcels to the correct destination runout. The new parcel processing plan required thinking outside the limitations of this infrastructure.
A limited pilot was set up, demonstrating the feasibility of loose-loading parcels to selected destinations. The success of this test prompted a larger scale �proof of concept� pilot. A used sorter was purchased and adapted to deliver loose-loaded parcels from induction on the receiving docks directly to runout destinations on the dispatch docks, located at the opposite side of the facility. This interim system was used primarily for sorting large or heavy parcels. The test systems set the stage for the development and installation of a new cross-belt sorter at Gateway � known as the Large Parcel Sorter � capable of sorting both average-sized and oversized parcels.
Barcoding Technology
Datalogic was chosen to formulate an automated solution to meet the data collection and sortation requirements based on scanning standard barcodes printed on paper labels. The requirement was for a system that could scan any one of five sides of a parcel for tracking and destination purposes. The company has supplied and installed two types of barcode scanners from the company�s effective range of omni-directional laser scanners � models DS8100 and DX8200. All scanners are fixed on industrial grade extruded aluminum frames, mounted over the induction conveyors to initially scan for barcodes on two sides of the parcels. Scanners mounted directly over the sorter cells moving at very high speeds below handle the remaining three sides. This equipment provides an advantageous modular approach to barcode scanning as well as a patented non-mechanical auto focus function designed to maximize uptime and reduce or eliminate downtime due to mechanical failures. The modular concept also allows maximum reading area coverage on all five sides of the parcels.
The Large Parcel Sorter is capable of sorting parcels with barcodes applied by the customer, applied at a different postal facility or applied at the induction stations at Gateway. Parcels are directed from induction directly to dispatch, and sorted parcels do not have to be pulled by tractor from runouts to the dispatch docks. The increase in loose-loaded product at both front and back ends of the process has resulted in reduced forklift usage. Now that the new process has been stabilized, some of the old infrastructure including the expansive parcel runouts, are being dismantled, freeing up space for other activities within the facility. The new system also provides better capability for streaming product and keeping small packets out of the parcel stream for delivery by Canada Post�s broad letter carrier network. Cycle times have been reduced, and now there is greater potential for �cubing� parcels.
The management team at Gateway has considered employee feedback through each step of the implementation. A communications area has been set up on the plant floor and Parcel Operations Director Rocky Gualtieri has been issuing weekly messages, advising employees on progress and introducing new initiatives. Gualtieri comments, �We have both the technology and the people in place to support growth.�
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