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Integrated Processing Area

Integrated coding, accumulating and sorting system
All major industries worldwide are seeking to reduce their operating costs, while striving at the same time to improve Quality of Service and Customer Satisfaction.
To help Postal Operators achieve this goal, Elsag Datamat has devised a new system capable of integrating operations performed by different processing units.

The Elsag Datamat Integrated Buffer System or IBS interconnects traditional stand-alone systems (Preparation, OCR, Presorting, Sorting), as well as adding enhanced capabilities such as mail buffering and destination-based routing.

Most major Postal Operators recognize the need for a new letter processing system capable of integrating postal operations performed by different units., named SIACS, in the main centers of the New Italian Postal Network.

The resulting system, known as the Coding, Accumulating and Sorting Integrated System (SIACS), is an interconnected set of mail processing systems that accepts letter mail through two inputs (CFC and OCR), stores mail pieces in an orderly manner according to mail type, manages address recognition and sends mail to two attached sorters at the proper time.

Elsag Datamat has deployed twenty of these systems in the main centers of the New Italian Postal Network.

Functional Description
SIACS comprises two parallel input systems, which transfer mail to one IBS. The IBS, in turn, transfers all mail streams to two output machines. System configuration incorporates automatic address recognition at the inputs to address-resolve the mail streams.

Configuration
The SIACS is composed of:
  • Two input machines, and specifically:
    • One CFC providing Culling, Facing and Cancelling for street collection mail as well as Image Lifting and ID-Tag printing capabilities
    • One OCR, equipped with a local feeder for pre-culled mail incoming from large mailers or from the network, providing Image Lifting and ID-Tag printing capabilities
    • Local stackers for presorting or backup
  • One Integrated Buffer System (IBS), providing:
    • Automatic link between input and output
    • Presorting based on mail attributes (Priority or Standard), status (resolved or not resolved) and destination (Sorter1 / Sorter 2)
    • Storage of mail for offline encoding
    • Routing of mail to the proper final sorter
    • Buffering capacity to ease interaction between inputs and outputs, preventing jams or input starving from affecting the sorters (and vice versa)
  • Two Final Sorters equipped with:
    • High capacity output stackers, a set of bins and a robotized sweeping and bundling system.
    • The two sorters can exploit the presorting and routing capabilities of the IBS to run different sort plans (different destination sets) if needed.
  • One Integrated Coding Service (ICS) System to manage address information:
    • receiving images from the input lines
    • providing automatic address recognition and on/offline video coding
    • providing coding information to sorters
    • managing the ID-Tag database
  • One Area Supervision System and Sort-plan Management System
Operating Description
Collection mail is fed into the CFC, where it is segregated according to stiffness, thickness and format. The CFC carries out serration, format (up to C5) and class detection. Mail incoming from Large Mailers and from the Network may be fed directly into the feeder ofr either input line.
Both mail streams originating from the input systems are ID-Tag printed and Image Lifted. As mail pieces are transported overhead from the inputs to the IBS, the Integrated Coding Service System submits the images to OCR and, if needed, online video coding.
On entering the IBS, mail pieces with a resolved destination (by OCR or online video coding) are stored in different streams depending on the sorter to which each mail piece has to be sent. The routing capability of the IBS allows the two connected sorters to run different sorting schemes.

Mail pieces that still need video encoding are stored in separate tracks, waiting to be forwarded when encoding is complete. The IBS is also capable of separating priority from standard mail, thus providing full control over cycle time and planned processing priorities. As soon as mail has been coded, the IBS sends mail streams to the proper sorter, where the ID-Tag of each mail piece is read and the letter is sent to the proper outlet (bins or stacker). Finally, the bins are swept by a robotized system which produces a stream of banded and labelled mail bundles without human intervention.

Main Benefits

Operating Savings
The elimination of:
  • manual OCR and CFC sweeping,
  • manual Sorter feeding and
  • manual transportation from inputs to sorters
significantly reduces the number of personnel needed, with as few as 5 operators required to run the whole process.

Service Quality
  • The elimination of idle times reduces overall cycle time, improving Quality of Service and making more efficient use of labour
  • Elimination of processing errors intrinsic to manual handling
Investment Savings
Compared with an equivalent pair of mono-line integrated systems, the routing capability of the IBS, taken together with the additional coding time provided by the overhead transports, reduces the number of outlets needed for each sorter (by up to 50%).

Multi-Vendor Interoperability
The IBS has been designed to interoperate in a multi-vendor environment with new and legacy systems manufactured by different suppliers.

Extended Functionalities
The ultimate functionality provided by SIACS, now available and in operation at Poste Italiane facilities, is "Virtual Outlets Management" (VOMAN).
VOMAN makes it possible to expand the number of outlets provided by a SIACS without adding new hardware.
All mail pieces for low traffic destinations are temporarily stored by the IBS. When buffer capacity reaches an established threshold, the System automatically changes part of the active sorting scheme of one of the two final sorters and automatically releases these destinations.
All this takes place without stopping input from upstream machines or output to the final sorters.
More than 30% more destinations can be sorted in a single phase vs. the basic solution, significantly extending the advantages provided by the SIACS.
Products
SystemIntegration
Integrated Processing Area
Russia - Moscow Sorting Center
Greece - New Airport International    Sorting Center
Greece - Athens Sorting Center
Italy - Milan Sorting Center
Italy - "Nuova Rete" Project
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