New technology and smart sorting automatization are changing the way mail and newspapers are delivered to customers. Mail sorting is done by smart machines, which means that mail is delivered from pre-sorted batches. This change has also led to need of improving the in-car handling of the deliverables.
Posti has a need to develop and improve efficiency of mail delivery and sorting. Today more and more of mail is pre-sorted batches from automated sorting machines or from publisher’s printing houses. Printed material like magazines and info leaflets with addresses are possible to sort using Posti’s delivery maps and lists. The trend is to take these mail batches to vehicles as such and pick items one by one from them at every right point of delivery i.e. “letterbox”. The change to working methods needs best possible in-car auxiliary racking for mail and newspapers to make employer’s work fluent and ergonomically easy.
“Huld’s experts had many creative and innovative ideas for the new design of the sorting rack. The project was successfully done in the promised short amount of time. End-users feedback has been encouraging saying even that the new delivery rack is the best they have ever used”, comments Posti’s Project Manager Kari Tuomola.
Aiming for the usable and safe design
Huld’s design process was done by following ”design thinking” steps and phases. The project started by clarification of specification. To get a good idea of the working conditions and needs of the users, huldians visited the Posti’s delivery offices to take dimensions and make drawings of the different car make and model interiors.
Requirements for the rack were to be modular, light, easy to install and remove and of course safe and easy to use. And to make it not so easy one alternative new rack model had to be designed to be easily changed “from day to night mode”. In Finland mail is traditionally delivered during the daytime. Most newspapers are subscribed and delivered during the early hours of the day. Day mode delivery product setting was for daily mail and advertisement, while night mode was for several bigger newspaper bundles and advertisement.
Huld’s experts created various concepts for the sorting rack based on these requirements. Some of the concepts used Posti’s current delivery trays but some had their own spaces with walls and separators. The ultimate target was to have a place for 2-6 presorted mail batches.
Prototypes were tested with real users
Customer evaluated all the concepts and the best ideas were selected for prototyping phase. Huld’s experts designed all the details for the selected concepts and a small series of prototypes were then manufactured. They were tested in real delivery work.
“We got valuable feedback and comments. After the prototyping phase it was easy to optimize these delivery racks and improve the design”, comments Design Manager Hannu Havusto from Huld.
Simple and light design improved the usability
After user testing, two of the sorting rack concepts were selected for further and wider field-testing for its structure and size. Field-tests provided valuable data and the prototype rack was updated based on the data.
The goals of the mechanical design of the rack were to reduce the quotient to a minimum by taking advantage of the possibilities brought by the sheet metal. The manufacturability of the rack was better taken into account, which reduced production costs and quotients, as well as simplified the structure and improved functionality. Usability also improved when the structure was dimensionally modified and made stronger. Other functions were also integrated into the structure, which significantly reduced the time required for the final assembly.
Active communication and flexible changes
Throughout the collaboration, Huld’s project team was in constant contact with the customer, listening to new needs and bringing up new solution for the product design. The customer’s wishes about the mounting of the stand and the necessary operating variations and usability were flexibly incorporated into the products.
“Creating common understanding of Posti process needs created a good base for straightforward actions”, comments Kari Tuomola.
Delivery racks have been ordered for several Post offices for trial use and the feedback has been positive. First new model got final acceptance and the second new model is in last testing phase and most likely to get acceptance. One user commented that the second delivery rack model is clearly the best rack that has ever been used.
“We are happy that after Posti’s 382 years of operation we still find things to improve”, comments Tuomola.