POST-EXPO 2018 REVIEW: Robotics and digitization dominate key innovations and new product launches in Hamburg

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From software solutions controlling fleets of automated sorting robots and business intelligence tools analyzing data to route optimization and automated guided vehicles for last-mile delivery, POST-EXPO 2018 brought together a host of new technologies showcasing how the postal industry is being transformed as a result of advanced robotic and digital solutions.

Speaking at the event, Kenan Bozgeyik, chairman of the UPU Council of Administration and director general of PTT-Turkish Post, said, “POST-EXPO is the most colorful and significant event in the postal sector. During this event we not only have the opportunity to witness the progress of the industry, but we can also see that the future is bright. In the exhibition we can see all the great technologies, and the conference sessions elaborate on critical topics in the sector and look at the future transformation of the postal sector. POST-EXPO is known as the show of strength for the industry and acts as a great platform to showcase innovation and share experiences.”

Product launches

The event, which was held from October 8-11 in Hamburg, Germany, hosted a number of product launches. In the area of robotics, Vanderlande, for example, launched a new collaborative robot, which assists workers in the sorting center with pick-and-pack operations. Meanwhile, Kyburz drew attention from visitors due to its new electric delivery trolley. The trolley works like a moving locker, driving independently to the customer with their parcels and contacting recipients about collection via a smartphone.

Elsewhere, independent software vendor The Information Factory launched a new digital solution called the [i]platform. The solution, which is a plug-and-play approach to software development, is designed to support a broad range of requirements such as digitization, data analytics, automation, workflow and forecasting.

Gordon Steward, marketing director at The Information Factory, said, “POST-EXPO 2018 has been great fun and extremely productive for us. We had a surge of interest from visitors right from 9:00am on the very first day, and that has continued throughout the three-day event.”

Other exhibitors took the opportunity to announce new team members and reveal new company branding. BlueCrest, for example, originally Pitney Bowes Document Messaging Technologies, made its debut at POST-EXPO. According to president and CEO of the company, the business has a renewed focus on “investing heavily in developing at least 4-5 new innovative solutions for its clients per year”. One of those new solutions for 2018 is the SortEngine360, which was showcased to the industry for the first time at POST-EXPO 2018. The solution enables sortation operations to be connected across a customers’ entire network.

Newcomers to the postal industry also revealed their innovations, including Nüwiel’s intelligent electric cargo trailer, AirBox Technologies’ IoT smart mailbox system, and Ship2MyID, which exhibited in POST-EXPO’s Innovation Startup Zone and offers delivery to any location with or without an address by utilizing GIS data.

Furthermore, live demos of Unmanned Life’s autonomous sorting solution drew much attention from visitors. The solution, which was awarded the Sorting Center Innovation of the Year Award at the 2018 Postal and Parcel Technology International Awards, uses AI software to perform sortation by utilizing fleets of autonomous mobile robots.

Speaking about the exhibition, Derek Osborn, who launched his new book Exploring New Frontiers, Reshaping the Postal Industry at POST-EXPO 2018, said, “This is an extremely unique event in the wider postal sector – and the only truly global one. It is a great place to network and meet many new contacts as well as re-connect with others you know from different contexts. Walking around the exhibition you can always be surprised at new innovations and clever applications of the latest technologies to solve problems faced by customers or logistics providers. Furthermore, the conference sessions have a wide range of topics that inform and stimulate discussion.”

Conference sessions

The conference was held across four days (October 8-11) and was packed with discussions on all the latest trends, developments and challenges facing the industry. Presentations covered addressing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, financial services, future challenges, regulations, last-mile innovations, cross border e-commerce, urban congestion, and smart mobility.

On October 10, POST-EXPO hosted the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) World Postal Business Forum, which this year focused on dealing with challenges while seizing opportunities in the digital age. A number of key topics were discussed including unlocking the opportunities of postal big data, data driven solutions for dangerous and prohibited goods and postal communications.

One of the key discussion points during these sessions was that posts need to develop a clear strategy for the use of data. Speaking during the session, Brian Irish, VP of marketing at Bell and Howell, said, “Sometimes we are guilty of having too much of a good thing and we don’t use the data properly. We need to identify what data is important and then develop a clear business plan to ensure that we use the information in the best way possible.”

Another insightful session was the data-driven solutions for dangerous and prohibited goods discussion. According to Shariq Mirza, CEO and founder of Assurety Consulting, more than 72,000 people died last year in the USA from drug overdoses, and many of the drugs entering the USA come through the mail stream. “We all have to work together as an industry to try and stop this,” Mirza added.

Speaking about the conference sessions, Niels Delater, CEO at quality measurement solutions provider Spectos, said, “The conference is a great event that provides industry people such as myself with an opportunity to get the most updated information on the postal market. I happily took the opportunity to be a conference speaker at the show and attended further talks too, which I found very insightful and useful.”

Award programs

POST-EXPO also hosted the PostalPitch and Startup Day competition run by the Postal Innovation Platform (PIP). The day saw 16 startups present their solutions to an expert judging panel, which then voted on which innovation had the most potential. This year, Fizyr – a Netherlands-based company that leverages AI, robotics and machine learning to improve parcel sorting in delivery logistics – triumphed.

The 2018 Postal and Parcel Technology International Awards winners

And finally, the winners of this year’s Postal and Parcel Technology International Awards were revealed during an awards ceremony on Wednesday, October 10. The event, which enabled exhibitors and conference delegates to come together for a great networking opportunity, saw companies triumph in seven different categories designed to recognize innovation and excellence in the postal sector. For the full results, click here.

Speaking about POST-EXPO overall, Thomas Klingspor-Bentzen, senior sourcing manager at PostNord, said, “POST-EXPO has been extremely interesting this year. I came to the event to meet with suppliers and competitors, and it has been a very successful trip for me. I look forward to returning to the show in the future.”

Tony Robinson, CEO of UKi Media & Events and founder of POST-EXPO, concluded, “The event was full of really excellent new technologies, particularly in the areas of last-mile delivery and sortation. There were also a lot of new players this year, which we haven’t seen at the show before. This is indicative of the way the postal industry is changing, with a lot of new opportunities for innovative and startup companies.”

After a successful 2018, the organizers are now preparing to deliver an even greater show for 2019. POST-EXPO 2019 will be held on October 1-3 at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Center in the Netherlands. See you there!

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, editor-in-chief

Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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