MARK BOURIS, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF TZ LIMITED, EXPLAINS HOW PARCEL LOCKERS ARE EVOLVING TO MEET THE CHANGING NEEDS OF THE E-COMMERCE INDUSTRY.
Tell us more about the products TZ Limited offers the postal sector.
Over the past four years, TZ has been able to establish itself as a major provider of electronic parcel locker solutions to postal and logistics organizations. Our TZ Smart Parcel Locker Systems are designed on an open and extensible hardware and software technology platform that allows ﬂexibility for customization in locker conﬁguration and aesthetics, customization in workﬂow and operating practices, and the ability to upgrade and/or extend the system to suit not only the requirements of today but those that may emerge in the future.
How are TZ’s parcel lockers unique?
TZ is the pioneer in the development of Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) actuated, digital locking devices. Voted as NASA Tech Brief’s Product of the Year 2005, TZ SMArt Device technology enables our locker solutions to have unique granular intelligence at the locker unit level, enabling unprecedented sensing and switching capability. Our devices are IP addressable and enable plug-and-play system enhancements for increased intelligence at the locker level. This facilitates simple and easy technology upgrades and locker bank reconfiguration and extensions to meet future requirements. We have a modular framework that ensures ease of conﬁguration, installation, maintenance and extension. We also incorporate high utility features such as anti-grafﬁti paint ﬁnishes, double skin construction, integrated weather seals for improved IP rating and active airﬂow design for energy efﬁciency. TZ’s software architecture is designed as an extensible framework that enables simple integration with third-party devices and software systems. Standard features include remote system management, real-time locker reservation and scheduling, live locker unit monitoring, reporting and operational control. Most importantly, we simplify integration and interfacing with back- end third-party systems for end-to-end functionality. We also support application extensions to point-of-sale retail, digital media management and other value- added options.
Tell us more about your latest project wins with postal operators.
TZ is the exclusive provider of smart parcel lockers to Singapore Post, which includes the end-to-end development, deployment and management of its POPStation parcel locker network across Singapore. TZ has also secured the supply contracts to support Poste Italiane and Pos Indonesia with their parcel locker programs. We are providing a complete end-to-end solution, customized to their needs and fully integrated into their back-end systems.
How do you think parcel lockers can be or will be improved in the future?
Electronic parcel lockers originally provided a new delivery option to offer greater convenience to consumers. They have now moved from being purely last-mile delivery pick-up points and first-mile access drop-off points to being solutions that offer a range of value-added services targeted at consumers, e-retailers and mail order companies. Parcel lockers will, by necessity, evolve to better facilitate some of these services. I can see a convergence of parcel lockers from traditional delivery hubs to vehicles for POS promotion, vending, storage and even inventory management.
What do the next few years hold for the company in terms of growth and product development?
Our device technology and system solutions are being rapidly commercialized across several market sectors as we move from early technology adoption to broader market acceptance. We have invested more than US$40m to pioneer our SMArt device technology to the world. We are working on a number of new developments for our parcel locker solutions that will set a new standard for the industry. It’s about increasing the intelligence of our systems and leveraging the exciting developments in the application of big data, and leveraging new wireless technologies and enhancing our ‘internet of things’ smart devices.
What are the main challenges facing the postal industry at the moment in terms of last-mile delivery, and how can these be overcome?
The growth of B2C and C2C e-commerce together with the challenge of meeting consumer expectations, in terms of efﬁcient and effective parcel delivery, will continue to drive change in ﬁrst mile, last mile and reverse logistics. I believe that the postal industry needs to openly embrace these changes and morph outside of traditional logistics and services to being an enabler for e-commerce, and parcel lockers have an important role to play in supporting this.