The systems will be fitted with new letter flow and reading equipment that Siemens says will increase throughput by up to 20 percent. Conversion work is due to be completed by October 2008.
The IMP sorting systems from the I&S Postal Automation Division were put into operation between 1996 and 2002 and form the foundation of automatic letter processing at Royal Mail.
The systems can perform the entire letter processing functions – such as preprocessing, reading, coding and sorting – in one process operation. Siemens claims that installing the Advanced Colour Recogniser system will make new reading technology functions possible. This will enable more letters to be channelled into automated preprocessing, reducing manual handling.
The mail flow in the systems will be optimised by fitting new channel gates, and a new gap correction module will ensure that letters follow each other as closely as possible, enabling throughputs to be increased by up to 20 percent. This upgrade will minimise the number of letters that have to be processed manually and at the same time reduce handling costs.
Dr. Paul Barton, Royal Mail’s Engineering Director, commented: ‘The decision to upgrade our existing IMP systems will provide a cost effective way of extending the operational life of the IMPs and at the same time enhance their performance and functionality.’
A pilot system will be completed by October 2007. The first load test has been scheduled for the 2007 Christmas rush. The bulk of Royal Mail’s IMP sorting systems will then be converted in the ten months between January and October 2008.