Since its founding in 1849, the Swiss Post has undergone a range of radical changes – everything from the first letters sent by train and airplane, to partial privatization in the late 1990s. The latest change, which started in 2006 and will continue to 2008, is the opening of three new postal centers as well as six sub-centers, where the processing of the letters will be mostly automated.
The Swiss Post is investing around a billion Swiss francs in the redesign of its postal centers, and this major strategic project has become urgent due to the demands of the deruglation of postal mail. As part of the new plans, the Post has ordered 2.4 million letter containers from the plastics technology company Georg Utz AG, to be delivered within three years. In the future, the containers will replace the bags in which letters have traditionally been transported. “This is the largest order in our company’s history, which by now spans 60 years,” says Christoph Zimmermann, production manager at Georg Utz AG, which is based in Bremgarten, Switzerland.
The 11-million-franc (eur 6.7 million) project will be quite a challenge for Utz. Along with the huge volumes ordered, several demands that pose special challenges for the company such as being to nest the empty containers to save space. They must also be capable of supporting loads of more than 15 kilograms for a long period without the plastic bottom sagging. In addition, every container must be equipped with a yellow marking that will serve as an orientation guide for stacking and with two barcode labels for unique identification. Last but not least, the Post made a highly unusual request: “The containers should be ugly, if possible,” Zimmermann says, smiling. There’s a very good reason for his, he says: “Dozens of containers are stolen every day, because they’re so useful in everyday life In future, the Post would like to nip this in the bud.”