The La Poste group’s parcel arm has improved the productivity and efficiency of its sorting and distribution centres by deploying a software package developed by Actemium Lyon Logistics.

In France, the craze for online shopping is as strong as ever and has led to steady growth in the number of parcels delivered in the country, totalling around 600 million in 2017. Colissimo, the parcel arm of the La Poste group, is a major player in this highly competitive environment, with a market share of 59 %. The sector is characterised by the need to continuously upgrade sorting and distribution systems by promoting the capacity to devise new offerings that meet market needs.

For La Poste, it’s not so much the high-speed sorters that concern managers but the instrumentation and control systems used for this equipment. Over the past 15 years, Actemium Lyon Logistics (VINCI Energies) has been incrementally developing a Warehouse Control System (WCS), which controls La Poste’s logistics platform activities.

“Productivity gains of 5 to 10% have been achieved and the parcel reject rate has been halved”

The process has taken place in stages: in 2004, Actemium retrofitted Speed Parcel, a registered trademark for the industrial IT system that controls sorting machines. New sorting centres then benefitted from these upgrades: 7 logistics platforms between 2004 and 2012, and 5 more in 2015 and 2016. And at the end of 2017, Actemium was entrusted with two further projects at the Toulouse and Erstein sorting centres.

The system integrator will have installed its control system across all Colissimo assets without stopping or hindering production, while honing the tool at each stage of the process – the latest version of it now being Master Speed Parcel.

“It’s a fully-fledged software package that brings together the various versions of Speed Parcel rolled out over time, re-incorporating all the specific needs that the application meets from one centre to another,” explains Nicolas Jaffeux, parcel and postal services manager at Actemium Lyon Logistics. “By making all the specific features generic, we enable La Poste to activate a new functionality with a single development and with automated deployment.”

Increased throughput

This software package tailored to La Poste has resulted in significant improvements in throughput at the sorting centres. “Productivity gains of 5 to 10 % have been achieved and the parcel reject rate has been halved,” says Jaffeux. The Moissy-Cramayel site, for example, can sort up to 17,000 parcels per hour compared with 16,000 previously, while other sites have increased their rate from 13,000 to 14,500 parcels sorted per hour.

These excellent outcomes and technical achievements have led La Poste to include in the specifications of tomorrow’s sorting machines the need to interface with Master Speed Parcel, which has become the “brains” of Colissimo’s entire sorting system. It’s a strong asset to help exceed the figure of 300 million parcels delivered in 2017 and to bolster its leading position.