Asendia UK installs automated sorting and robotics for over-labelling at Heathrow distribution center

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Asendia has successfully installed automated sorting and six new robots for over-labelling at its parcel processing center at Heathrow, which became fully operational at the end of May.

The newly automated system will increase parcel throughput, achieving a rate of up to 7,200 parcels per hour, with the site open seven days a week and able to operate 24 hours per day. Asendia UK has invested £2.5m (US$3m) of CAPEX in these improvements.

Simon Batt, Asendia UK CEO, said, “The successful launch of our new automated parcels hub is the culmination of a very complex project. The team worked incredibly hard to get this up and running and I’m incredibly proud of all involved. We have futureproofed our core Heathrow facility for some years to come, to further grow with our e-commerce retailers and build on the successes of the past few years.”

Parcels arrive on-site and an automated cross-belt sorter, with scanners, printers, digital photography and six robots together take care of the relabelling, routing, sorting, weighing and dimension-checking of parcels. The system has maximum flexibility for dispatch and is able to sort into bags, pallet boxes or onward into air containers.

The automation project aims to improve capacity/throughput for Asendia e-commerce retailers. Employees who were previously engaged in manual labelling and sorting at the site are largely being redeployed to other essential supply chain operations within Asendia UK.

Luis Barros, COO at Asendia UK, said, “Retailers, many of whom have fast-growing e-commerce audiences around the world, will benefit directly from seeing their parcels pass through our facility faster than ever. It’s not surprising several big brand names have already signed up to use the facility.

“Having volumetrics for all parcels will help with revenue protection and better control of sizing, which is a key driver within distribution networks. Equally, having photos of all parcels is a very good security benefit.”

Indian firm Falcon Autotech supplied the sortation solution and UK-based WSS provided engineering and technical design oversite as well as system installation. Asendia also worked with Dorchester-based Loop Technologies, which specializes in customized robotics, from robotic arms for labelling fruit for supermarkets to equipping robotics for aerospace projects. O&I Consulting provided project management expertise for the project.

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With over a decade of experience as a business and technology journalist working in B2B publishing, Hazel first joined UKi in 2011. After taking 18 months off to bring up her daughter and try her hand at marketing copywriting, she returned in January 2018 to do what she loves best – magazine editing! She is now the editor of UKi's Passenger Terminal World and Parcel and Postal Technology International magazines.

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