New FedEx Ground facility features package scanning technology

FedEx Ground, a subsidiary of Memphis-based FedEx Corp. has opened a new terminal in St. Louis equipped with the latest in package-sorting technology.

The technology, from Telford, Pa,-based Accu-Sort Systems Inc., includes high-speed, camera-based scanners that read all six sides of a package to capture digital images of each bar code, according to Paul Viccaro, managing director of facilities and material handling for Fed Ex Ground. The facility opened earlier this month, according to a FedEx Ground statement.

Viccaro said the sorting technology uses an array of cameras that can look at all six sides of a package as it goes down one of the facility's two 550-ft. sorting conveyors. "Using the camera image, we detect the bar code that sits on the box on one of those six sides, and we decode the bar code just like a laser scanner decodes the bar code in many of our other facilities," he said.

The package is then sorted according to the information on the bar code and placed on the appropriate truck by a worker, he said.

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Viccaro said the camera technology reads packages better than laser scanners, which are still used in most of FedEx Ground's facilities. The laser scanners, he said, read 95% of boxes the first time. By contrast, the camera scanners can read approximately 98% of the packages.

"That means we're going to be more productive, and it helps keep our operating costs low because when the bar code on a package is successfully read the first time, there is no need for human intervention," he said. "This allows us to shorten the amount of time we're actually sorting boxes from the time we unload them from trucks until we load them into the next trucks. It helps help us improve our service to the customer."

Viccaro said FedEx Ground is currently using the new technology in its Salt Lake City, Chicago, Cleveland and Charlotte, N.C., facilities. "We're deploying it as we expand our facilities and build new facilities," he said.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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