Canada Post ramps up for biggest mail day of the year
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With its snaking conveyor belts, spiralling steel chutes and boxes of presents whipping around, stepping inside Canada Post’s Gateway processing facility in December is like entering Santa’s North Pole workshop: it’s where the magic happens.
The country’s largest mail sorting plant has been ramping up into high gear for the last few weeks in anticipation of their biggest day of the year on Thursday, when three quarters of a million packages will be brought in, sorted and dispatched in a 24-hour period.
Plant director Randy Carroll may wear a suit to work, but look a little closer and you’ll notice the steel-toed boots he puts on everyday.
“It’s important to be on the floor as much as possible,” he said, looking comfortable in a fluorescent yellow safety vest. “We’ve got to step it up. We’ve got to move it, move it, move it.”
In order to meet demand, Carroll has put all his resources into play. Even the old in-line belts and manual sorting areas that normally sit idle will be running to make sure presents will reach their destinations by Christmas.
But the centrepiece of the 10-acre facility is their state-of-the-art small package sorting machine, which can take small boxes and large envelopes from delivery to dispatch without a single human hand being involved.
Packages arrive individually, in metal hampers or on pallets, and are loaded into the sorter by forklift truck. The items are spaced out mechanically before a bar code reader recognizes the package and its destination in the blink of an electronic eye.
“The barcode is the future,” Carol said as he stood on a catwalk overlooking the sprawling machine.
The system currently allows people to track their packages through four stages: receiving, sorting, delivery and delivered. With Canada Post’s smartphone app, you can check the progress of any package in real time.
The importance of the holiday season here cannot be overstated. 20 per cent of all mail coming into the country arrives during the holiday season. This December, mail carriers expect to deliver one billion cards, letters and parcels.
Canada Post’s suggested mailing date for regular service was on Monday of this week, “but if you’re sending it today, we’re going to do everything possible to get that parcel under the tree,” said spokesperson Eugene Knapik. “Randy wants a clean floor.”
To be absolutely sure your present makes it on time, they recommend using Xpresspost or Priority, which gives procrastinators until December 19th or 20th to send off last-minute gifts.