Com­pa­nies set up ro­botic pack­age sort­ing lines

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS | FOCUS - ByWANG YING in Shang­hai

In or­der to de­liver the more than 1 bil­lion pack­ages from mer­chants to buy­ers dur­ing the Sin­gles Day shop­ping frenzy, the na­tion’s ma­jor couri­ers have launched auto-sort­ing sys­tems to en­hance their ef­fi­ciency and ac­cu­racy.

As the coun­try’s big­gest shop­ping fes­ti­val, the Sin­gles Day event is putting great pres­sure on do­mes­tic ex­press com­pa­nies.

Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by the China Ex­press As­so­ci­a­tion and Alibaba GroupHold­ing Ltd’s lo­gis­tics ser­vice off­shoot Cainiao, China’s fast de­liv­ery in­dus­try will have to han­dle 1.05 bil­lion pack­ages through­out the an­nual shop­ping car­ni­val, up 35 per­cent year-on-year.

So it be­comes crit­i­cal for in­dus­try play­ers to fur­ther raise their han­dling ef­fi­ciency, and some ma­jor ex­press com­pa­nies are mech­a­niz­ing, or auto-sort­ing, part of the process.

Yunda Ex­press (Shang­hai) Co Ltd has in­stalled a set of 200-me­ter-long sort­ing lines, with more than 300 trays, in a Shang­hai tran­sit cen­ter.

“We are ready to launch a sec­ond line be­foreNov 11. The fa­cil­ity can han­dle more than 20,000 pack­ages per hour and it can op­er­ate with­out any break for more than 20 hours a day,” said Lai Shiqiang, op­er­a­tions vice-pres­i­dent of Yunda.

Ac­cord­ing to Lai, Yunda launched the Shang­hai au­tosort­ing fa­cil­ity ahead of last year’s Nov 11 shop­ping fes­ti­val, The 20 mil­lion yuan ($2.95 mil­lion) fa­cil­ity cuts staff num­ber from 200 in peak days down to around 40, with the ac­cu­racy rate in­creas­ing from 95 per­cent to 99 per­cent.

The Shang­hai-based com­pany ex­pects its or­ders dur­ing the Sin­gles Day sales pe­riod will increase 50 per­cent from last year.

To get fully pre­pared year, the com­pany this has restruc­tured and ex­panded more than 10 tran­sit cen­ters, added 16,000 ve­hi­cles and hired 30,000 tem­po­rary staff, and in­tro­duced brand new au­to­matic sort­ing equip­ment in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

“Yunda will also in­stall 300 sets of au­to­matic col­lec­tion sys­tems at its tran­sit cen­ters to dou­ble the pack­age col­lec­tion speed to 2,500 pack­ages per hour,” added Lai.

Some other big-name courier com­pa­nies, such as the New York Stock Ex­change­listed ZTO Ex­press Inc, STO Ex­press Ltd, which is wait­ing to list, and Shen­zhen-based SF Ex­press (Group) Co, have also in­stalled auto-sort­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“Apart from the auto-sort­ing fa­cil­i­ties in op­er­a­tion in the east­ern China re­gion since last year, STO added sim­i­lar equip­ment at its eight main new tran­sit cen­ters, in­clud­ing Zhengzhou of He­nan province, Pan­jin of Liaon­ing province and Wuhan of Hubei province,” said Sara Gu, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of STO.

Ac­cord­ing to Gu, the au­tosort­ing will save 80 per­cent on man­power and raise ef­fi­ciency by 75 per­cent.

In early 2016, STO be­came the na­tion’s first courier to launch ro­botic sort­ing in Yiwu, Zhe­jiang province. It launched the sec­ond trial in Tianjin in Oc­to­ber.

Sort­ing lines op­er­ated by robots han­dle 2 and 3 times the amount of that can be done by hu­man sorters, with er­ror rates go­ing down to nearly nil.

“Auto-sort­ing and robot sort­ing will be the trend, and we ex­pect to have all of STO’s 81 ma­jor tran­sit cen­ters us­ing such smart fa­cil­i­ties soon,” added Gu.

es­ti­mated num­ber of pack­ages to be de­liv­ered to buy­ers dur­ing Sin­gles Day fes­ti­val

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Work­ers mon­i­tor an auto-sort­ing line at a fa­cil­ity of ZTO Ex­press Inc in Shang­hai. Courier com­pa­nies are gear­ing up for the up­com­ing Sin­gles Day shop­ping fes­ti­val.

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