Using tech to propel mail service

July 16, 2023

Hongkong Post has responded to the rapid growth of e-commerce by developing a range of smart technology solutions including the iPostal Kiosk service and introducing a sorting robotics system to streamline the mail handling process, resulting in enhanced operational efficiency and workplace safety.


iPostal Kiosk provides a convenient way to post items weighing up to 2kg, including tracked mail such as SpeedPost, EC-Get and registered mail. With 23 kiosks located across all 18 districts, people can purchase postage labels and make postage enquiries, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Not sure about how much postage to pay? The kiosks will do the job for the sender, as they come equipped with a 3D scanner that can automatically measure the size and weight of the mail item. Simply select the required service, pay, then affix the printed posting label and the postage label on the item. Finally, pop the item into the drop box and it is done.


The mail collected from iPostal Kiosks and other channels is sent to the Central Mail Centre in Kowloon Bay for processing. Aside from manual sorting, Hongkong Post also employs advanced technology to ensure efficient processing.


Tech solutions
In March 2022, Hongkong Post introduced the sorting robotics system for small parcels. Once staff place a parcel on the conveyor belt, the system scans its address barcode, measures its weight and size, then records the information in the computer system automatically. Sorting robots then transport the packets to their respective unloading fittings.


When the fittings are full, picking robots will sort the mail bags into workstations according to the mail collection points recorded in the system. Finally, the mail bags are sealed by staff and dispatched to various delivery points. When the robots are low on power, they automatically return to the charging station and will get back to work once fully charged.


“The system will scan the barcode which contains the addressee’s information. The sorting robots will then carry the packets to their respective unloading fittings,” Hongkong Post General Manager (Mail Processing) Ivy Cheng explained.


“This will simplify the mail handling process and enhance operational efficiency.


“In comparison to the traditional manual sorting process, operational efficiency can be improved by around 20%. As this robotics system is equipped with artificial intelligence technology, it is expected that enhanced efficiency will be observed in the future.


“Not only has the robotics system enabled a more efficient mail handling process, it also effectively minimises the repetitive manual handling work in packet sorting, improving health and safety in the workplace.”


Convenient collection
The sorted mail is transported to each delivery point by Hongkong Post’s fleet of vehicles. The mail can either be sent directly to the delivery address or to a self-service iPostal Station for pick up by the recipient. There are currently 155 iPostal Stations throughout the city and Hongkong Post plans to continue expanding the network.


To send a mail item to an iPostal Station, the sender simply needs to include the recipient's mobile phone number which is capable of receiving SMS messages, and the code of the selected iPostal Station. The recipient can then retrieve the parcel by using the passcode that will be sent to their mobile via SMS.


Future plans
In a further development, Hongkong Post is scheduled to move into its new headquarters at the end of the year, which is being built next to the Central Mail Centre in Kowloon Bay.


Hongkong Post is also working at full steam to redevelop the Air Mail Centre in order to increase its capacity and to meet the growing demand for local and cross-boundary e-commerce.

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