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Securing parcel lockers for the e-commerce era

06 March 2013

Ensuring safe and secure deliveries at parcel lockers is something close to Natalie Brannelly's heart. Here, she explains how her company is working closely with the parcel locker sector to deliver the optimum electro-mechanical latch for indoor and outdoor electronic locker enclosure applications.

As e-commerce and online shopping become more and more popular the number of failed delivery attempts to private customers is rising. Furthermore, there is a greater desire amongst consumers to have the option to collect items from a parcel locker terminal.

As a result of both these factors, the parcel locker sector is experiencing rapid growth as more and more logistics service providers are choosing to offer the self-service market efficient automated pick up and drop off points to meet these requirements.

The parcel locker terminal is focused on the ‘last mile’ of a shipment. That is the period when a parcel leaves the transport network for the last step of the delivery – often a small distance but a part of the process which can cause disproportionately high costs.

The business community, particularly in central and eastern Europe, is witnessing a huge rise in the growth of e-commerce. This, together with a general growth in parcel shipments, is placing significant strain on the industry. Also, people are working longer hours and the number of single households is rising. Consequently, fewer parcels can be successfully delivered.

This not only leads to more dissatisfied customers but also increased cost implications. In addition to offering a wide range of functional, cost efficient and innovative benefits to logistics service providers and end users, the parcel locker terminal meets the vital challenge of the ‘last mile’ in the delivery process by providing an effective and practical solution to delivery problems. Furthermore, it reduces last mile costs caused by undelivered parcels.

Arguably, one of the most vital components in any parcel locker terminal is the electronic locking system used to secure the locker doors. This is all the more important as there is a high probability that these lockers will occasionally contain high value items purchased from e-commerce sites.

This is where Southco’s strengths as a leading designer and manufacturer of electronic access hardware, comes to the fore. Southco’s wide range of products and systems includes a product designed specifically designed to provide concealed security for enclosures - the Rotary Electro-Mechanical Latch ‘R4-EM’ product family.

A sophisticated and technologically advanced latch, the R4-EM offers an affordable means of securing enclosures, including those that sometimes contain high value items such as parcel lockers. Indeed, Southco is working with postal and parcel operators around the world to develop the R4 electronic latching system for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Easy to install and maintain, the R4-EM delivers the convenience of electronic access control with the security of a proven, robust, metal rotary latch design in a compact package. Easy push-to-close operation and electronic actuation simplify access across a variety of applications.

Key features include optional switches or sensors to provide system feedback on latch or door open or closed status, a simple two-bolt mounting arrangement and an electric gear motor that delivers significant advantages over solenoid driven latches, in terms of its low electrical power consumption and high load capabilities. In the event of power failure, a mechanical override feature facilitates manual or emergency release.

The R4-EM latch is also vandal resistant and offers a life span in the region of 100,000 cycles. An embedded microprocessor takes care of latch control, as well as providing signal conditioning for connected high-security devices such as a numeric keypad or swipe-card reader, smart card readers and biometric devices. The R4-EM is also capable of communicating with remote computers. 

Natalie Brannelly is with Southco

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