Tyneside gears up
In the first of a series of articles charting the progress of our next parcel sorting machine – at Tyneside Mail Centre - Paul Smith chats to production supply manager Dave Murphy and deployment lead Jason Parton to find out where the build is at and the excitement it’s generating for colleagues and the business.
Q: Firstly, can you tell us your involvement in the build of Tyneside’s first parcel sort machine?
Jason: I work for the project team as a deployment lead. One of the biggest problems in mail centres is, while we’re building a PSM, it loses around 1,000 square metres of floor space. During these Covid-19 times, mail centres can’t really give that space up! So, a disruption plan has to be put in place first of all. My role is to ensure the build goes to plan, then to look at testing the machine and training the operators. The machine will go live some time in August and we’ll be there as the first few weeks of operation take place to see that all goes smoothly.
Dave: I’m based at Tyneside and I’m the lead on site. We started by working with the shift managers to ensure we had a work plan we could deploy and a robust clearance plan to maintain the quality and consistency, while the build takes shape. I also have to maintain relationships with contractors to ensure the project runs smoothly.
Q: Where are we at in the timeline of the build?
Dave: On Monday 25 January, the physical build started. It looks like we’re ahead of plan. It’s not always obvious to look at, but a month on, a lot of progress has been made. The carousel plates are progressing, and the main flooring is completed. You can see in the pictures on the main image how the space is taking shape.
Q: What’s different about this PSM compared to the 20 we already have in operation across the UK?
Jason: This machine is from a different supplier and uses slightly different technology, but although they look different, the throughputs and all modelling are the same and I think we’ll find the performance will be the same. The main difference is the way the parcels are inducted into the machine. On our current machine, three colleagues are inducting onto a single moving belt, whereas on this machine, colleagues all have their own work stations. The tippers are the same – so there are similarities – but the overall look and the way parcels are inducted is the biggest difference we have.
Q: Why does Tyneside need a PSM?
Dave: The growth of parcels would support the siting of the machine in this area. Through the summer period last year, when you would normally get a bit of a lull, we were still operating in some weeks either the same – or higher – than at Peak the previous Christmas for some products. Our Tracked 24/48 parcels product volumes have gone through the roof.