Croatian Post uses RAF OCR to deliver next-day service

The new automated parcel sorting machine and improved OCR empower Croatian Post to process 15,000 parcels per hour and sort 180,000 letters an hour.

The SituationCroatian Post was established in 1999 as a result of the separation of HPT-Hrvatska pošta i telekomunikacije (HPT Croatian Post and Telecommunications) into two separate stock companies. The state-owned company competes in a liberalized market with international rivals such as DHL, UPS and DPD. Croatian Post dominates the letter business with around 98% of the market and has approximately 20% share of the parcel delivery sector. To continue to compete, it needed to be equipped with the latest technology."Our parcels used to pass through several sorting processes and the process had to mostly be done by hand," Antonio Videka, Croatian Post’s executive director of the optimization sector explains. "There were only eight chutes and the capacity was 2,000-2,400 parcels an hour, which wasn’t fast enough as business kept growing. The new automatic sorting machine in Zagreb has 55 large chutes for parcels, which allow us to program 150 destinations, and we’ve got a further 90 smaller chutes. Capacity has risen nearly 700% and we can reach speeds of 15,000 parcels per hour."SolutionsWhen Croatian Post officially opened what it understandably calls ‘the most advanced sorting centre in Southeast Europe’ in September 2019, it was the culmination of seven years of planning. The €45.5m (US$53.6m) centre on the outskirts of Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, is the largest investment in the company’s history and an essential development to enable Croatian Post to keep pace with its double-digit annual growth rate.The new automated parcel sorting machine is capable of sorting 15,000 parcels per hour, with weights ranging from 100g to 30kg. Croatian Post’s letter sorting machines based at the new centre, can sort 180,000 letters an hour.The project was implemented in two phases. Firstly, letter sorting equipment was delivered and installed at centres in Split and the old city centre facility in Zagreb. This phase of the project started two years before the new facility was due to come online and gave the benefit of an immediate improvement in capacity performance and serviceability to the letter sorting operation.A total of 5 Vantage sorters were installed, 4 at the city centre facility in Zagreb and 1 at the sorting centre in Split. In addition, at Zagreb a mixed mail VariSort was installed. The systems are connected to a central computer system.The solution features advanced software functionality, including highly accurate centralised OCR for machine printed and handwritten addresses and automatic detection and forwarding of mail to recipients who have changed addresses. A series of inline printers print all required information on the envelope.Phase two of the project included the installation of a high throughput state-of-the-art parcel sorting solution at a brand-new purpose-built facility near to the international airport on the outskirts of Zagreb. The cross-director-belt equipment was installed during the construction of the building. This system has 5 input lanes, each lane with 2 WATCH operator stations for inducting parcels and manual keying.This phase also included the relocation of the letter sorting systems from the old city centre location and re-installation at the new facility, all completed with minimal impact to the operation.Both phases of the project were completed to schedule thanks to the close cooperation and partnership between Croatian Post and BlueCrest.Investing in this latest technology is paying off in many areas of the business. The massive increase in processing capacity has enabled Croatian Post to increase its market share in the parcel delivery market, streamlining its operation with increased efficiencies."In every way it’s better than our older locations," says Antonio Videka, Croatian Post’s executive director of the optimization sector. "We’ve been planning it since 2012 and when it finally opened it was a relief for everybody at Croatian Post. We used to be on the edge of failing to honour our promise of meeting delivery deadlines. Now we have enough space to increase the number of parcels and deliver them all on time, even during periods of peak traffic."‍These solutions included such critical attributes as full address machine print OCR, full address handwriting ICR, full name recognition on machine and handwriting addresses to provide mover’s functionality, mail facing, complete directory redesign to create more precise match rates, mail type recognition for special handling requirements, and address learning systems for continuous directory improvement, among others. Pitney Bowes also deployed its VariSort transport which is specifically designed to allow operators to expand their operation and offer new competitive products to their customers in the high growth e-commerce flats and small parcel delivery business.These advanced products were deployed with an open architecture design using a central control, CEN compliant, software system which ensures the customers can modify and enhance these at their own discretion now and in to the future. These centralized solutions also offer a scalable network platform for generating new revenue sources for postal operators in last mile delivery and cross border services.Solutions UsedA central computer system provides OCR (RAF Argosy Post and Parcel Vision) for all sorters with a throughput in excess of 230,000 items per hour. It controls all central administrative fumctions, sort planning, and address data.Five Vantage™ mail sorters for accurate, intelligent high-speed sortation, yielding high operational throughputVariSort mixed mail sorter for magazines and small packetsTrueSort Pro provides throughput, logically sorting by address, weight, and priorityThe ResultThe customer was very satisfied with the level of service and the positive partnership with BlueCrest and RAF. They said the new technology will enable them to be more efficient while ensuring document integrity and security.

The Results

More Automation Means Less Human Error and Higher Read Rates

Though processing took longer with our technology, we automated a larger chunk of our daily volume to reduce pressure on personnel while increasing read rates.

Increased Daily Revenue and Gross Profit

The value per piece was the same across the board. But with the higher amount of mail pieces automated generates a higher gross profit.

Centralized Solutions Lead to New Revenue Sources

Using a central control, CEN-compliant software system  ensures the customers can modify processes and services their own discretion.

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