How time flies

The parcel centers in Frauenfeld, Daillens and Härkingen have now been operating for 20 years. We take a look back with Jörg Kunz, Head of the Control Center in Härkingen – and cast an eye ahead.

Anita Suter

Copyright: Daniel Desborough

Jörg Kunz, you have been working in the Härkingen parcel center since the very beginning. Do you still remember when it opened?

Yes, both this and the related restructuring – there was talk of declining parcel volumes. It was intense at the start. Many areas experienced teething problems, but this helped us grow stronger as a team.

The media talked of "parcel chaos" ...

Our computer program "TESS" was always going offline at the beginning, which meant there were frequent interruptions. This was a big challenge for the dispatch planners in the control center as well as in sorting. As a crane operator – I worked in different areas here in Härkingen – that did not have a major impact on me at the time. There were just waiting times, sometimes we had to write things down manually.

Are there any other events that really stand out here in Härkingen?

The total disruption of the north-south axis on roads and rail in June 2012, triggered by a landslide, stretched us all to our limits – especially on the day itself. Together with our transport partners we had to redirect all transport via the A13 at short notice. That was a big challenge but we were able to handle the situation thanks to our huge efforts. We managed to ensure delivery to Ticino throughout the interruption.

How has the work here in the parcel center changed over time?

Many of the original manual processes have been continually optimized and automated. For example, truck drivers had to report to the control center sooner after entering the area. We gave them handwritten instructions on the location numbers and swap body numbers. Today, this process is automated: TESS recognizes the tour when vehicles arrive thanks to transponders and links the transport with the schedule. When entering, the driver now receives a ticket with all the information.

What do you think about the opening of the new regional parcel centers?

This is a hugely important and necessary step. Personally, I hope that this will ease the workload on the parcel centers so that we are prepared for the steadily increasing volumes in the future. I am very confident that the new centers will help us achieve this.

written by

Anita Suter

Logistics market and innovation