bpost has implemented an artificial intelligence (AI) solution for parcel sorting from software company Covariant in its Brussels X (BX) facility in Belgium.
The BX sorting center has a parcel sorting machine that can handle 25,000 parcels an hour. In bpost’s current system, every parcel for sorting passes through the camera tunnel, where it is photographed from multiple angles, then the barcode is scanned, and the weight and dimensions are taken. The new development builds on this method. It captures the characteristics of parcels that the cameras had previously not been able to pick up. This primarily concerns parcels that are laid on top of each other. Those parcels will now be redirected to a special chute where they can be handled separately. This development can also identify the packaging method, which means that plastic bags can be redirected straight to a dedicated chute for shipping.
In due course, the new system will also enable bpost to provide customers with more information about parcel handling using collected data. The machine vision will capture data about damage, enabling bpost to advise customers on the best ways to adapt their packaging material for more efficient shipping.
Cameras will now recognize parcels in flexible plastic bags and redirect them to the chute for items to be immediately shipped. Up until now, these have often been redirected to a manual sorting branch as their packaging meant they took up too much space, although the actual product dimensions were smaller. The new system is able to detect this difference, which means that more parcels will go straight to the chute for immediate shipping.