March 29, 2016

Bell and Howell launches intelligent parcel lockers for e-commerce fulfillment

Cleveron's PackRobot locker is used throughout Europe for consumer package delivery and pickup.

By Ben Ames

Photo: The Cleveron PackRobot intelligent locker

Parcel-fulfillment firm Bell and Howell LLC and its Estonian partner Cleveron yesterday unveiled an intelligent locker for parcel drop-off and pickup, with plans to distribute the structure throughout the U.S.

Cleveron, with headquarters in Viljandi, Estonia, builds the "PackRobot" intelligent locker, which is widely used in Europe for consumer parcel deliveries. The companies teamed up in 2015 with the goal to bring the system to the U.S.

The North American market has the potential to install 15,000 parcel terminals in the next five years, sparked by rising consumer expectations for quick delivery and a dramatic increase in parcel volumes, the firms say.

Durham, N.C.-based Bell and Howell said it will target three applications for the lockers: e-commerce retail for same-day pickup and returns; brick-and-mortar retail for "click-and-collect" or "buy online, pick up in store" and campus package delivery and returns.

The PackRobot platform has triple the parcel storage capacity of other lockers because it measures each parcel's dimensions, configures a delivery slot to fit that size, then uses a 3-D lift to deliver the parcel to the assigned delivery slot, Cleveron says. That means the tower does not waste storage space compared to lockers that fit inducted parcels into preset locker sizes.

Customers retrieve their items by visiting a tower either indoors or outdoors, then using a smartphone app to identify themselves and claim the parcel. The terminals are installed at 800 locations across Europe, with more than 61,000 lockers delivering 450,000 parcels each month, Bell and Howell CEO Ramesh Ratan said in a statement.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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