Technology and the future

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Australia Post technologies

Australia Post uses a series of amazing machines to handle mail. Check out each one to see what it does and what it looks like.

 
Tray management system

Tray management system

The tray management system is a computer-operated material handling system. It transports up to 3,400 letter trays throughout the letters centres in Dandenong (Victoria) and Strathfield (NSW) using a 500-metre overhead conveyor belt.

By scanning barcode labels on each tray, the system determines the next part of the process and transports the mail trays to the appropriate machines – the multi-line optical character readers or barcode sorting machines.

 
Multi-line optical character reader

Multi-line optical character reader

Multi-line optical character readers have a laser beam eye that reads the full address on a letter. Based on what they read, they spray the unique barcode for that address onto the envelope. This allows the letter to be sorted quickly and efficiently on the barcode sorter, down to the street address level.

This is a considerable improvement on the previous technology which could only read the last line of an address (that is the city and state or territory).

 
Barcode sorting machines

Barcode sorting machines

Barcode sorting machines read the barcode that has been printed on an envelope by the multi-line optical character reader machine or by a customer who barcodes their own mail. A barcode sorting machine can sort up to 36,000 letters an hour into delivery rounds, post office boxes and to large customers directly.

 
Video coding machines

Video coding machines

Video coding machines are grouped into suites of approximately 100 computers. When an address cannot be read by the multi-line optical character reader, it is transferred electronically to the screen of a video coding machine.

An operator reads the address and makes the appropriate corrections that allow it to be sorted electronically. This helps eliminate any interruptions to the electronic sorting process, meaning that mail moves through more quickly and efficiently.

 
Small packets sorting machine

Small packets sorting machine

This machine sorts small parcels and other items that will not easily pass through the flats mail optical character reader (FMOCR).

 
Post into the future

Post into the future

Almost everything we do today relies on technology. Think about how you communicate with others and how different it is now than when your grandparents were your age. They didn't have computers, mobile phones or the internet.

In 1960, about three billion message transactions took place and Australia Post handled 50 per cent of them. Today, around 30 billion messages are sent every year, but only about 16 per cent are "traditional" mail that can be handled by Australia Post. Although Australia Post's share has decreased, the total number of letters has increased by 170 per cent.

The largest change has been the increase of mail between businesses and households. Financial mail, home shopping and direct mail are adding to this growth of mail.

Australia Post is constantly working on new technologies and regularly introduces improved ways of delivering products and services that meet the business and social needs of Australia.