Gentle and precise sorting of parcels for recipients across Tatarstan – thanks to Denisort.
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Gentle and precise sorting of parcels for recipients across Tatarstan – thanks to Denisort.


The Swiss company Ferag AG has installed a Denisort high-performance sorter at Russian Post’s regional parcel sorting centre in the city of Kazan. The tray system with trays that tilt to either side can process up to 10,000 units per hour. These items come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and are made from different packaging materials. This means the system sorts plastic polybags and shipping envelopes made of polyethylene foam and corrugated cardboard, in addition to classic cardboard boxes. In doing so, the maximum weight of the individual parcels must not exceed seven kilograms.

Russian Post has long been subject to the same quality standards as its counterparts in the EU. As part of global networking, the state-owned company – which delivers over 436 million parcels per year – not only provides postal services on a national level, but is also a multimodal logistics partner for cross-border solutions to and from Russia. In addition, Russian Post also cannot escape the global demands of the booming e-commerce business. Above all, goods from China (Alibaba) play a decisive role here.

Gentle, fast and precise sorting as the key requirement

As a result, the sorting systems in distribution centres from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok increasingly have to transport parcels gently, precisely and quickly. The group and its 331,000 staff are thus faced with the task of modernizing an increasing number of distribution centres so they meet international standards. Kazan – home to a logistics hub for Russian Post situated next to the airport that supplies the entire Tatarstan region – ended up serving as a model for this approach. ToolRus, the turnkey supplier and system integrator at the state-owned company, was thus faced with a major challenge during the very first modernization project – one which also has to be dealt with at the seven level 1 distribution centres across Russia. This was to establish a high-performance sorting line in an existing building with only very limited space on offer. As a result, ToolRus started out by choosing the Denisort tilting tray sorter from Ferag for the main sorting line for smaller parcels.

Smooth integration in the existing building

The modular Denisort technology can be easily integrated in existing hall structures as it requires only a comparatively small footprint. The possibility of ejecting goods on two sides also increases its versatility. It is thus the perfect solution in projects where every square metre counts. Another plus point is that it allows for a very flexible layout with tight curve radii – including in the third dimension. With the technology moved overhead, the Ferag system creates sufficient space at floor level, which can then continue to be used for manoeuvring trolleys, for vehicle and pedestrian traffic or for loading areas. In Kazan, the newly installed sorting line consists of two sorting loops of around the same size with a total chain length of 281 metres. If the sorting volumes of the customer should experience strong growth over the years, these loops can also be extended with ease. The area taken up by the system covers just 1200 square metres. Despite the limited space on offer, the Ferag engineers fine-tuned the layout in such a way that there was space for 195 chutes on the system, which operates with 562 trays. The parcels are ejected gently and reliably via the chutes according to their destination, which is determined by recognizing the recipient's address via OCR system. Apart from the two infeed stations, which are each loaded manually by five people, a large part of the conveyor runs three to four metres overhead. Each of the 10 employees in the infeed zone has an operating radius of 1.5 metres.

Sorting of a wide variety of different parcels

In addition to integration in the existing building, the decision makers at ToolRus also had another essential requirement: the sorting system had to be able to handle parcels of all shapes and sizes. In line with these requirements, the system in Kazan sorts a wide range of goods reliably and precisely, including classic cardboard boxes, plastic polybags, and shipping envelopes made of polyethylene foam and corrugated cardboard. Usually, a mixture of different packaging formats with their own feel, structure and dimensions creates major problems for conveyor and sorting technology. However, Ferag took the trays that tilt to either side in the Denisort system and optimized them for handling polybags and all kinds of parcels, thus eliminating the risk of damage that can occasionally occur in such cases. The only limitation is the maximum weight that each 45 x 38 cm tray is able to carry, in this case seven kilograms. Furthermore, a parcel also has to weigh at least 80 grams.

10,000 units per hour underline high performance

When working at 90 percent capacity, the main sorting line recently put into operation in Kazan is designed to sort over 10,000 units per hour. This makes it one of the most powerful systems of its type delivered to a CEP service provider by Ferag to date. It is designed in such a way that it can handle two completely different parcel flows. Firstly, there are international parcels that are transported directly from customs clearance zone to the sorting hall via belt conveyor. Secondly, there are also national parcels that are transported into the hall using trolleys and tipped onto the belt. Before the parcels reach the Denisort system, they are automatically scanned and checked for damage. The system no longer distinguishes between national and international parcels from this point on. In the following sorting process, the zip code areas are of primary importance. Another criterion is the differentiation between local delivery zones and level 2 distribution centres. As a result, 161 chutes are reserved exclusively for mailbags, with the remaining 34 used to send parcels for loading onto trucks using trolleys. Ejection is made with pinpoint accuracy, with the sorting system working with typical Swiss precision since the very beginning. In fact, it has worked so reliably since the first test run that Russian Post is currently thinking about purchasing additional Denisort systems.