Will mailroom robotics someday route the mail? While the short answer is, “probably not anytime soon,” the reality is that, in the not-too-distant future, robots could play a role in routing or delivering employee mail at corporate mailrooms.
Industrial robots have already made inroads within several industries, including some aspects of postal mail production and distribution. Back in 2011, ADM Automation rolled out its iCart material-handling vehicle capable of operating around a mailroom without an operator. (The AGV device is distributed by mailing equipment provider Kern.) Five years ago, FedEx Corp. began using Savioke’s (now Relay Robotics) autonomous, mobile-delivery robots to essentially take the place of mailroom clerks. However, the slick tech has yet to go fully mainstream.
Some manufacturers already deploy automated robotics to feed mail trays and pallets. Ricoh and Starship Technologies teamed up at the MAILCOM ’19 trade show to explore what it would take to use and service robots in mail, distribution, fulfillment, and warehouse applications. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, mail fulfillment and parcel shipments have grown. Just think about all the online shopping orders delivered in the past three years that required boxes with shipping labels. Companies are looking for ways to handle the increased volumes without adding to the staff.
Though they don’t need sick days and benefits which make them attractive alternatives, don’t expect mechanical workers to replace your corporate mail center employees tomorrow. That said, most mail centers could do with some automation, and some of the available technology is impressive.
Time = $
“The old adage that ‘time is money in business’ has never been truer,” says Jack Noonan, VP of business development at the PRINTING United Alliance trade association. The time to money ratio is where high-speed sorting from firms such as Tritek Technologies comes into play. (Noonan once ran a company in Central Florida that used Tritek’s sorters.)
Economies of scale apply to high-volume mailers in vertical markets such as financial/insurance, governments (think vote by mail during the recent election cycle), healthcare/pharma, and higher education. “If you’re responsible for millions or billions of pieces of mail, a lot of money stands to be lost if operations don’t run as efficiently as possible,” he notes. “People are trying to get [save] fractions of pennies on each piece.”
Tritek’s lineup of sorting equipment and software is also beneficial to organizations with smaller volumes. Those entities can choose small footprint solutions that solve their mail distribution challenges without occupying a tremendous portion of their limited office space. For the ultimate in space-saving mail solutions, check out the Tritek Mobile Ace Workstation.
“Streamlining the feeding and finishing processes is key to preparing today’s mail pieces for shipment, distribution and delivery,” adds Noonan, who spent 10 years working with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on the Intelligent Mail Barcode. A self-described “Post Office geek,” he is very familiar with related mailing technologies, such as Tritek’s intuitive software and its corresponding algorithms. This technology offers ways to automate traditionally manual operations for in-plant mailrooms, such as sorting inbound mail to courier routes according to business rules and current employee locations.
Automating Inbound Mail
Tritek’s digital mail delivery solutions aren’t mechanical robots, but they can solve part of the mail-forwarding dilemma when it comes to relocated employees or those working remotely. Automated digital mail delivery is the answer. With digital delivery, mail center staff opens employee mail when instructed, scans it, and then forwards PDFs to the addressee’s email. Digital mail delivery gets inbound mail to the intended recipients faster and less expensively than manual delivery via a courier crew.
Vote by Mail
Tritek’s ballot processing solutions feature patented vote-by-mail technology. Our vote-by-mail solutions are built to meet each municipalities’ specific requirements according to floor space consideration, volume fluctuations, and types of ballot designs.
Our Correct Elect technology is proven at county election offices, nationwide. We hold the exclusive patent on the ballot method and apparatus to provide a full audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting.