About this good practice
Freight transport and efficient logistics management were heavily tested by the COVID-19 pandemic (increased e-commerce needs while keeping its staff safe, delays in the delivery of goods, etc.). The use of automation and AI technologies faces the emerging challenges of the transport sector.
Thus, the Hellenic Post Group ELTA, which is the public company of postal services in Greece offering both conventional and fast courier services in the country, invested in a fully automatic sorting system to manage objects with ultra-high speed and security. A track was set up inside the facility with special sensors on its surface. The robots use this surface guided by AI through the floor marking. Although they are constantly on the move, they never crash into each other due to their collision avoidance sensors. They read the barcode of each object they are assigned to, automatically weigh it, and head to the appropriate system exit/bag to place the item. Everything is controlled and connected via special high-tech software.
Another asset is that the robots can “realize” when their battery is running low. Then, they automatically go to the charging stations for only 5 minutes which provides 4 more hours of battery autonomy.
In parallel, many educational visits have been organized by the Hellenic Post Group, welcoming students of all levels to these newly upgraded facilities, familiarizing them with the innovative robotic sorting system and the AI, as well as using it in real-time.
This practice is part of an integrated digital transformation plan developed by the public company of postal services in Greece, the Hellenic Post Group ELTA. So, it has not been possible to assess a direct cost.
Extensive research of similar models and benchmarking was required by HR.
Evidence of success
Utilizing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the robotic sorting system provides:
COVID-free environment during sorting procedures
Speed increase +250%
Management capacity increases more than x5 times
Ensured delivery in 1 day, no delays
Automatic weighing of items
Faster and improved customer service
Also, more than 200 pupils, aged 4 to 18, participated in the educational activities of the last trimester of 2021. Many more to come.
Potential for learning or transfer
E-commerce came to stay, affecting freight transport and logistics worldwide. Thus, with or without an active pandemic, a robotic sorting system powered by Artificial Intelligence is becoming a necessity for logistics companies, either private or public, that want to keep up with its ever-increasing demands.
This practice, by combining (i) innovation in technology, (ii) innovation in management, and (iii) protection against the spread of COVID-19 in the sector of freight transport, demonstrates how a public company can become innovative, competitive, and business efficient. It has managed to operate in a COVID-free environment, addressing the increased demand with even higher speeds and greater efficiency.
Similar systems operate in America and China, showing great potential for the practice to be replicated in different contexts. It is a practice with immediate benefits wherever transferred. Also, the educational visits can add even higher value to the residents of the area.