In cooperation with Telia, Posti is developing a new type of smart letterbox that is first in the world to utilise the new NB-IoT technology. The smart letterbox can, for example, report when it should be emptied.
"With a billion addressed mail items each year, this information conserves the environment and saves costs. For instance, if the time needed to process each item sent via Posti would take just a second longer than today, annual expenses would increase by 13 million euros. If we are able to save even 30 seconds of working time on unnecessary letterbox visits, the total benefit is significant," says Sami Reponen, Chief Process Officer at Posti.
NB-IoT is an international network technology that can be used to affordably connect a large number of devices. The smart letterbox provides information in real time on its use and possible vandalism.
In the three-month pilot project, Posti and Telia will boost the intelligence of five letterboxes in Helsinki and Oulu. If the trial is successful, the next goal is to turn all 5,000 boxes nationwide into smart letterboxes.
"We installed the first sensor just before Christmas, and the results have been promising. Posti's test group is also able to continuously monitor the use of the letterboxes with mobile phones," explains Mikael Sundholm, Project Coordinator at Telia.
Posti aims to achieve significant logistical benefits with the trial. "The management of logistics flows is a crucial issue to us. Posti operates some 3,300 vehicles around Finland, and their daily mileages add up to six times the world's circumference. Moreover, Posti's trucks travel a daily distance equal to four and half trips around the world," Reponen counts.
Real-time data is particularly useful to Posti during peak seasons, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day, during which the smart letterboxes can be emptied according to need. The innovative project has its roots in Posti's key strategic goal to improve current services with digitalisation and develop the digital monitoring of letters and other addressed mail.
Going forward, data from the smart letterbox sensors will be connected directly to Posti's reporting system. "The goal is that each mail carrier and driver receives the necessary information on a continuous basis and that we are able to centrally monitor the movements of mail in real time", says Reponen.