Yodel semi-automates uglies sorting

Yodel has announced the opening of a semi-automated out of gauge parcel sorting system at its Wednesbury sorting site. It is designed to “revolutionise the handling of large, out of gauge and delicate parcels” according to the company.

The bespoke Merlin system means that thousands of parcels that used to have to be sorted manually now can be dealt with more quickly. Costing £1 million, it can handle items up to 1.8 metres long and 0.9m wide. It can process up to 2,500 items per hour.

According to Yodel, “Merlin’s automation will also ensure that clients and customers benefit from greater visibility and traceability of their parcels throughout the network. Items that previously had to be manually sorted will now be automatically scanned, weighed, volumised and photographed as they pass through the system and are sorted to Yodel’s nationwide network of customer delivery depots. Furthermore, the new system will also be directly linked to Yodel’s billing systems to enable speed and accuracy of invoice processing.”

While much of parcel sorting is automated problems arise when a different size or shaped parcel comes into the system. This could be flat pack furniture, car exhausts and ironing boards. The Yodel statement continued, “According to Apex Insight these items currently represent 5% of the market by value. The process of sorting by hand slows down the transit of goods through the network, therefore reducing the number of parcels that can be sorted in peak periods and increases the risk of damages and mis sorts due to human error.”

Lucy Robertson, Yodel’s director of sort and transport, who has been instrumental in developing Merlin, explained: “The Merlin project is a world-class system. The investment in equipment and technology will deliver improvements in flow as well as reduce parcel handling by our colleagues. Our clients will benefit from greater visibility and traceability of their parcels as well as full details on the cube and weight of each item.  The ergonomic design will also make our colleagues’ work easier and reduce the risk of strain and injury.”

Andrew Peeler, CEO, Yodel, commented: “Merlin is a great investment for us, strengthening Yodel’s position as the parcel carrier of choice. We are now able to process bulky and delicate parcels more easily and efficiently, increasing our capacity and improving the flow of parcels through the sort.”