The company SKROUTZ LAST MILE has been operating since 2019 and provides domestic courier services for postal items. These services include the handling of shipments, preparation of postal items, exchange of documents, as well as other additional services such as cash on delivery, etc. It is a member of the Skroutz SA group of companies, the largest marketplace in Greece.
SKROUTZ LAST MILE wanted to speed up the parcel sorting process and reduce possible sorting errors as much as possible at its facilities at its Sorting and Transport Center (HUB) in Attiki, in the Botanikos area.
ZENON AUTOMATIONS SAICT, a member of THEODOROU GROUP, designed and installed an automatic sorting system at SKROUTZ LAST MILE, which consists of an automatic sorting machine (sorter) and a volume measuring unit.
Parcels are sorted based on the unique barcode they have on a label. As soon as the sorting system reads the barcode of the parcel, it looks up the SKROUTZ LAST MILE database with which it is connected, takes the information of the destination and gives an order, so that it goes to the corresponding output of the system defined for the specific sorting program . The time to do this is ~300-400ms, which is the time from the moment the barcode is read, until the moment the parcel arrives at the entrance of the parcel sorting device.
For the sorting of packages, an Intralox S7000 series sorter is used, which is based on a special crawler with rollers (Activated Roller Belt – ARB), parts of which are activated in order to divert the package appropriately to the exits located on either side of this crawler. The sorter has 24 outputs, 12 and 12 in this case, their size can be larger or smaller according to the customer’s needs and each output can correspond to one or a group of destinations. It could be the Thessaloniki area or the vehicle bound for Kypseli.
The sorter has various sorting programs, which change depending on the time of day and the work performed by the sorting center. So each output can be changed for another use depending on the sorting program. At each of the exits there is an electronic display/sign that writes the destination, so that it is easy for the operator to know what is the destination of the corresponding cart and to indicate and promote them accordingly. Every time the sorting program changes, the information on the screens/tags, which communicate wirelessly with the system and are updated in real time, automatically changes as well.
The speed that can be achieved in the sorter is 4000 parcels per hour. This of course depends on the rate of feeding parcels into the machine entrance, which is done manually, and is directly proportional to the people feeding and the ergonomics of incoming parcels. Small and easily manageable parcels can be fed faster, while bulky, heavy or oddly packaged parcels delay feeding.
The sorter can handle any packages that are rectangular or roughly rectangular in cross-section, while it cannot handle packages that are spherical or cylindrical. There is no particular problem if the parcel is wrapped in nylon or if it has reflections.
For the proper functioning of the system, the printed barcodes must be of good quality. That is why it is recommended for large customers who send repeated shipments to print and affix the barcodes on the parcels in a correct way in order to reduce to the minimum possible the possibility of not reading the barcode. In this case, manual sorting of the parcel is required.
In the sorter, in addition to the barcode reader, a device from Mettler Toledo with the Cargoscan brand has been integrated which measures and records the dimensions of the package, as well as two photos, so that the condition of the package can be proven when it arrived at the center classification. These are stored and can be searched at any time, in case there is a complaint from a customer.
Parcels pass through the sorter twice. First, they are measured and separated into large groups (piles), depending on their general purpose. The dimensions of the parcel are fed into a special SKROUTZ LAST MILE software and the next time each group is separated by delivery vehicle, taking into account the volume of the parcel and its destination. It is noted that many of the vehicles used are two-wheelers, so accurate tonnage is important to avoid overloading them with packages that cannot fit. Information on parcel dimensions is also used to optimally place parcels at Skroutz Points.