DPD Netherlands BV in Best, The Netherlands, is a major hub of the DPD Netherlands network, an international parcel delivery service. The Best facility handles 85,000 parcels per day, 8,000-15,000 (9.5%-17%) of which are considered irregular. These irregulars—heavy, bulky, and odd sized parcels—play an important role in the company business, as DPD specializes in accepting a wider variety of items than other companies. Irregular items such as tires can number as high as 5,000 per day during peak season.
Irregular parcels cannot be fed into the automatic sortation system; instead, they are manually sorted to destination locations from a dedicated area of the facility where motorized rollerways are the most common conveying technology. There, operators must manually push irregular parcels across the roller-way to feed them to the appropriate loading area.
This task requires a significant amount of effort as easy parcel movement is inhibited by both the friction between the parcel and metal rollers and the main conveyor line flow. Additionally, the task requires the repeated use of muscular force over an extended time period (worker shifts last up to eight hours). The high demands and high repetition of this work leads operators to report back pain and fatigue-related problems.
The DPD Best facility is a model depot, where the hub manager, Mr. Berend Jan Schuring, is always interested in bringing improvements to his operations, both in terms of efficiency and providing a good working environment. To this aim, he travels to other depots to see different solutions and learn about new technologies. Inspired by the solution from Intralox implemented in the German hub of Lehrte, Mr. Schuring decided to test the Ergolox Diverter™ at a manual sort station.
The Ergolox Diverter combines the robust, low-maintenance operation of an Intralox modular plastic belting conveyor with the additional feature of free-floating rollers that spin perpendicular to the direction of belt travel. Field measurements with a dynamometer have shown a 60%-75% reduction in the amount of effort an operator must expend to accomplish a task, leading to a dramatic decrease in the risk of operator injury.
DPD Best selected an Intralox turnkey package for its custom-built Ergolox Diverter. The complete solution provided for a specialized Intralox team to perform all stages of engineering, installation, and start-up. The depot staff was free from additional responsibilities as Intralox handled the entire project, and the installation was completed over a weekend, with no disruption of depot operation.
The Ergolox Diverter was installed at Best as a three-month test. But after running the solution for only three weeks, DPD decided to proceed with three additional installations.
“Operators are now coming to work with a smile,” says Mr. Schuring. The Ergolox Diverter provides a smoother, gentler handling of parcels, making it easier for the operator at the collection point to correctly read the destination labels. Even bundled tires roll away smoothly and easily now, and the damage caused by tires tumbling over smaller items has been 100% eliminated.
Mr. Schuring says he is quite satisfied with the Intralox solution. He’s especially pleased with the way the Ergolox Diverter was easily integrated into the hub facility without interrupting operations or demanding rearrangement of existing equipment.