The IoT will help reduce visits to empty mailboxes in a transformative project for the Finnish postal service.
Telia has teamed up with Finnish postal service Posti to develop smart mailboxes.
The new boxes use sensors connected to an NB-IoT network to provide real-time information on their use, together with alerts about vandalism.
Sami Reponen, chief process officer at Posti, said the mailboxes would save money and time, and benefit the environment by reducing unnecessary journeys for their employees.
“If the time needed to process each item sent via Posti took just one second longer than it does today, annual expenses would increase by 13 million euros,” he said.
“If we are able to save even 30 seconds of working time on unnecessary letterbox visits, the total benefit would be significant. The management of logistics flows is a crucial issue for us.”
Posti operates some 3,300 vehicles in Finland, with trucks travelling a daily distance equal to four and a half trips around the world, explained Reponen.
Sensors have been fitted to boxes in Helsinki and Oulu in a three-month pilot project. If it proves successful, the goal is to turn all 5,000 boxes nationwide into smart devices.
Mikael Sundholm, project coordinator at Telia, said, “We installed the first sensor just before Christmas, and the results have been promising. Posti’s test group is able to monitor the use of the letterboxes continuously with mobile phones.”
Real-time data from the mailboxes could prove invaluable to Posti during peak seasons, such as at Christmas or Valentine’s Day, when the boxes can be emptied according to need.
In the future, data from the sensors will be sent directly to Posti’s reporting system. “The goal is that each mail carrier and driver receives the necessary information on a continuous basis, so that we are able to monitor the movements of mail centrally and in real time”, said Reponen.
Internet of Business says
An innovative programme that reveals the IoT at its best: simplicity, real-time data, and a potential national deployment, all adding up to significant savings in time and money, along with greater efficiency, better use of resources, and environmental benefits. If the trial is successful, this could be a model for other postal services to emulate.