Planning and foresight: Affordable automation solutions for smaller CEP companies

Consumers these days can purchase products from anywhere in the world with a mouse click or thumb swipe, and Courier Express and Postal (CEP) companies have witnessed continuous growth in their shipment volumes.


Customer requests to reduce the processing time of these shipments, a lack of qualified personnel, and continually developing delivery models all contribute to the complexity companies are faced with every day. Thus, CEP companies are increasingly turning to automation to speed up logistics processes in their distribution centres.

For smaller CEP companies, however, automation is an expensive investment. And, importantly, these growing companies don’t want to be locked into systems that lack agility and may not meet their future requirements. Nevertheless, with automated sorting technology, smaller businesses can begin with limited automation, capitalising on its benefits, while retaining internal flexibility and versatility.

Start small

Brian Hansen, Systems Director of Logistic Systems at the BEUMER Group says that with planning and foresight, automation can be affordable for even smaller companies.

“If a company is looking to invest in automation solutions for the first time, we always recommend considering three key factors,” Hansen advises. “First, consider the amount of money earned per item and how the costs and benefits of automation would affect this.”

Hansen says that a business should next look at the distribution network surrounding the process; if the new system allows more items to be processed at a quicker rate, can the network handle the higher capacity?

“Finally, consider the operational costs per item before investment and how these would be affected,” he concludes.

Hansen says that in-depth conversation with the CEP operator is key to understanding their needs and what they can afford.

“We always begin new relationships by understanding the customers’ core business values and the way their business works,” he says. “By taking this considered approach, we believe we are then in the best position to have the most successful long-term partnership for any CEP or postal operator.

Hansen says those detailed discussions about how the business operates and what it aims to achieve is the way to identify solutions for both smaller and larger operations.

“Based on this information, we can calculate if automation will be affordable for the business.”

A line sorter as a first step

Hansen suggests that smaller, growing companies could consider a line sorter solution as their first step into automation, because it offers a high degree of flexibility and a range of features that are ideal for growing businesses and that the sorter’s flexibility and adaptability are key benefits for many of the growing companies he works with.

“The system’s modular architecture means it can be extended with very little downtime,” he continues. “Sorter design can be specified on a very small scale and can be extended or upgraded to a more advanced, higher-speed at a later point.”

No company too big or too small

Hansen notes that so-called ‘smaller’ companies can be every bit as complicated as their larger counterparts within their business environment.

“We find it logical to approach every new operator with the same level of integrity, “ he states. “We address the needs of the customer and their business on an individual basis as we believe there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.”

The right partner can make all the difference

“There is no reason why smaller couriers cannot invest in automation, if it makes good business sense to do so and the effects have been carefully considered,” says Hansen. “For up-and-coming businesses, a strong business case must be the driving force behind the process of evaluating the need and selecting the correct partner.”

Hansen strongly recommended that operators, especially if new to automation, are considerate in choosing a reliable partner for the material handling system as it forms a vital part of their everyday business.

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