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Conveying and sorting equipment from Sovex help DPDs distribution centres

Thanks to conveying and sorting equipment from SovexDPD’s distribut, ion centres in Manchester and Crawley operate efficiently – each automatically processing up to 2,400 parcels every hour. This reduces labour costs and speeds up deliveries, which means a better service for DPD’s customers.

Part of Geopost, a subsidiary of the French postal company La Poste, DPD is one of Europe’s leading Express Delivery providers and offers a wide range of services. It has grown rapidly over the last 30 years and now ships over 2 million items every day. DPD has over 500 depots in more than 40 countries, which serve customers living in their respective areas.

Both the Manchester and Crawley sites collect parcels from customers in the evening and deliver them in the morning. Sovex’s equipment optimises the overnight sorting process used to prepare items for dispatch, which means the hubs can extend their collection hours late into the evening – a valuable service for customers who need to post things last minute.

DPD Manchester is open 24-hours a day and recently underwent a £1.5m refurbishment. This includes exterior doors, offices, and two new loading bays equipped with Sovex TL3-7.5-15-600 telescopic boom conveyors. These have 600mm wide belts and extend fifteen metres into lorry trailers, where operators load them with parcels.

Goods flow along the two TL3-7.5-15-600’s onto a single heavy-duty Sovex belt conveyor, where they merge and travel through a laser scanning system onto a sorter. The laser scanning system reads package barcodes at high speed, and instructs the sorter to send items down one of sixteen delivery chutes using roller divert technology specially designed by Sovex. Each divert has a multitude of rollers which, when given a simple control signal, configure themselves to pre-sort/centralise mode, or twist left or right to direct parcels.

Photocells at the tops of the chutes detect incoming parcels and activate red beacons to alert operators. The beacons are also triggered if a chute becomes full or someone trips the emergency stop controls. The system is fully reversible. In the morning when sorting is complete, parcels flow to the TL3-7.5-15-600’s where operators load them into transit vehicles.

Built to accommodate growing business demands, DPD’s Crawley site is brand new. Just like DPD Manchester, it uses a laser scanning system operating above a Sovex heavy-duty belt conveyor to identify parcel barcodes, and has a roller divert sorter that sends items down chutes for delivery. However, the hub’s small size means operators only need one TL3-7.5-15-600 telescopic boom conveyor to load and unload trailers.

Mark Wilkes, Director of Technical Services at DPD, is impressed with Sovex; "Handling parcels manually is time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient. In addition, human errors cause a multitude of problems including misrouted or lost items. It would be extremely difficult for us to offer services such as next day delivery without modern conveying and sorting equipment."

"The Sovex technology increases the level of automation at our Manchester and Crawley distribution centres. This lowers the risk of human errors and costs associated with rectifying them. We also save money on labour. The conveyors help the hubs run efficiently, which means we can get parcels to our customers on time."

Safety is a top priority at DPD, which carried out risk assessments according to work health regulations before specifying the equipment. The TL3-7.5-15-600’s at both sites have roller shrouds and pop-out rollers to eliminate nipping points, anti-collision buffer strips, and front LED lighting so operators can see in dark trailers.

All DPD’s Sovex conveyors have metal plates covering their undersides, which protect workers from the dangerous mechanisms, and feature emergency stop controls at regular intervals.

"The Sovex machines contain few moving parts, which simplifies maintenance," continued Mark. "They operate quietly, and we can tailor running speeds to suit throughput requirements. Controls are clearly marked and user-friendly. Both our Manchester and Crawley sites are open almost 24-hours a day and subject their equipment to a strenuous workload, yet our new conveyors operate reliably."

"Our experience with Sovex was extremely positive. The company is courteous, professional, and pleasant to deal with. It came up with a competitive quote, and installed both conveyor systems with due care and diligence. I strongly recommend Sovex to other companies in the parcel handling industry."

Sovex is in good shape and enjoying a period of unprecedented growth. Since acquiring FKI Conveyors last year, the company has expanded production at its new Gainsborough factory to include telescopic boom conveyors, creating jobs for people in the area and boosting the local economy.

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