Today’s Age of the Smart Postman

Lithuania Post is responsible for postal services in Lithuania. The company was set up on 16 November 1918 and this date is celebrated as Post Lithuania day. Lithuania Post currently consists of over 500 fixed post offices, 85 mobile service locations and a growing number of smart postmen across 12 districts.

Challenge

The number or inhabitants in rural areas in Lithuania has been steadily decreasing, which has reduced footfall in small local post offices. Keeping these local post offices open is financially unviable in the long term, however Lithuania Post needed to continue to provide optimal services to the rural community. Lithuania Post decided to deploy a mobile solution which would empower its postal workers to deliver services that had previously been available in Lithuania’s post offices in a modern, less costly manner, directly at customers’ houses.

Equipping postmen with a reliable and rugged mobile printer was part of the proposed project. Ramūnas Krukonis, Head of IT System Planning at Lithuania Post, explains the decision to deploy 2,000 Zebra ZQ510 printers: “We know and trust Zebra devices from other parts of our business; and everyone knows that Zebra is the leader in the field of mobile printing solutions. The ZQ510 has an excellent form factor, a user-friendly interface and a unique deep sleep mode, which makes it the ideal choice for our postal workers. And the comprehensive Zebra Print DNA management tools which we are just looking at using, will make it simple for my department to centrally add, manage and troubleshoot our huge fleet of printers dispersed across the country, which, along with the local Zebra support we received, is absolutely indispensable in terms of business productivity, effectiveness and cost savings.”

Solution

The innovative Smart Postman project was initially rolled out in rural areas; however, postmen are now also adopting the mobile solution in cities, such as Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda. Postal workers are equipped with tablets, printers, scales and mobile phones; they can access a multitude of dedicated job tasks via the MLIS task manager application, designed in collaboration between Lithuania Post and UAB Informacinių technologijų organizacija (iTo). The app runs on their mobile Android tablets, which connect via 3G/4G and PHP Symfony middleware to the SOAP and REST APIs that integrate with Lithuania Post’s internal back office systems in real time. When postmen need to print a document, such as a proof of delivery, proof of postage, failed delivery notification, subscription order confirmations or receipts, they use the Zebra ZQ510 Mobile Printer, which connects to the tablet via Bluetooth.

Smart Postman was awarded the title of best digital solution in the government and citizen involvement category in the national Naujasis knygnešys contest in Lithuania and was subsequently one of eight digital solutions from Lithuania nominated for the World Summit Awards, organised by the United Nations.

Result

Looking to the future, Lithuania Post may start to use Zebra’s Print DNA management tools. The Zebra Bluetooth Connector and Connection Manager application installed on the Android tablet can create a gateway to the cloud between the tablet and the ZQ510, which has version 5 Link-OS, so Lithuania Post’s IT department will have full visibility into the metrics of all its printers. Moreover, the IT team will be able to use Zebra’s Profile Manager Enterprise and Printer Portfolio Manager Enterprise (PPME) to remotely add to, manage, configure and troubleshoot its geographically distributed fleet, together with Zebra’s PrintSecure, to secure connections and block unwanted access.

Indeed, having a robust, reliable printer that can be remotely managed will further contribute to the success of the project. As V. Budrienė, Head of Corporate Affairs Department, Lithuania Post states: “This is yet another stage in the implementation of the planned modernisation strategy of Lithuania Post and improving the experience of our clients.” And more printers – and potentially other Zebra hardware – will be deployed as the project continues to be rolled out across the country.

However, it is not only the business that is enjoying the advantages of the Smart Postman deployment: postal workers love the solution. Lithuania Post provides training and as one mobile postwoman from Utena summarises: “What surprised me most during the training was the portable printer. It’s so small and comfortable – you can carry it with you all the time. A week prior to the ‘Mobile Postman’ training I was scared and afraid I could not do this job. But now I feel different and I believe in myself.”

Customers are benefiting too. In a recent survey conducted by Lithuania Post, over 90% of customers stated that they were satisfied with all Smart Postman services, with over 76% being more, or as, satisfied with Smart Postman services as they were with traditional post office services. The project has been a resounding success on all levels and represents an innovative step forward in the future of the postal service.

 

Article credit: Zebra Technologies