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Automated loading of parcels into trucks tackles ‘the last mile’

08 March, 2019

Trials have begun of a system that can load parcels automatically into delivery trucks, thus reducing the amount of manual work needed, and saving time. The system, called PackMyRide, has been developed by the supply chain specialist, Dematic, and is being tested in a pilot project at distribution centre operated by the delivery company DPD in Nagold, Germany.

The system – claimed to be the world’s first fully automated technology for loading parcels –picks up the packages from an existing intralogistics system and moves them to mobile racks via a rack feeder. The racks have been designed to allow AGVs (automated guided vehicles) to transport them automatically into delivery vehicles. Several delivery tours can be loaded at the same time, boosting productivity and efficiency. It is expected that the system will be able to handle up to 80% of DPD’s packages.

“We’re revolutionising parcel loading for the last mile by introducing the world's first automated solution concept in this segment,” says Dematic’s project leader, Dr Daniel Jarr. The system, he adds, “not only provides ergonomic relief for the drivers, but also saves a great deal of time, which benefits the parcel delivery company”.

After the system has received the packages from the intralogistics system, it transports them to a scanner to verify their volume, weight and barcode data. The packages are then stored temporarily in a sequencing tower, before being passed in the required order to a pusher.

At this point, the system differentiates between two types of package. “If something is wrong with a package, it will be redirected to a manual line,” Jarr explains. Otherwise, the package is loaded onto a feeder that moves along a line of mobile racks and places the packages at pre-calculated locations. When a rack is loaded, it can be removed and transported to a delivery vehicle, either manually or using AGVs.

Dematic claims that its PackMyRide system is the first to automate the loading of parcels into delivery trucks

Manual sorting and loading is a time-consuming process for parcel delivery companies. Every day, drivers have to load up to 200 packages, each weighing up to 1,000kg, into their delivery vehicles.

“While our parcel sorter systems are already highly automated, at the end of the process the packages for the last mile are still handled completely manually today,” explains Thomas Steverding, a senior group manager for process and development at DPD in Germany. “For the first time, Dematic's innovative solution concept shows how we can support and relieve the human workforce at this point. We are very pleased to test this promising development."

Dematic believes that the technology could also have applications in other sectors of industry.

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