A birthday cake with a red marzipan ribbon was the visible sign that the deutsche post parcel center in kitzingen was celebrating its half-birthday. For 25 years, tens of thousands of parcels have been sent from there every day to customers in large parts of northern bavaria.
Strictly speaking, it was the 27. September 1994, when the parcel center – one of the first in germany – started operations on a 112,000 square meter site in the industrial area towards albertshofen. Today, it is one of 36 such centers maintained by deutsche post DHL. All incoming and outgoing parcels with a postal code beginning with 97 or 96 on the sender’s or recipient’s address are handled there. The area is almost congruent with lower and upper franconia.
Parcels weigh up to 31.5 kilos
In figures, this means that an average of 300,000 parcel shipments pass through the hands of the 380 employees there every day. This is to be taken literally, because at the existing six so-called presorters, the parcels delivered from the post offices and packing stations, as well as those collected directly from customers, all have to be placed on the conveyor belt by hand from the exchangeable crates. The lightest weigh 250 grams, the heaviest 31.5 kilos.
From then on, the rest is largely automated. Modern machines, for example, read the addresses of the shipments and generate a code that determines where the package’s further journey goes. At the end, all parcels that are not destined for the parcel center’s own area leave the kitzingen DHL center. They end up in another parcel center, from where a parcel carrier delivers them.
Conversely, broadcasts from the other 35 package centers and from major customers, which go to receivers in the 97 or 96 zip code area, arrive in kitzingen during the night. Employees sort these shipments and in the early hours of the morning, trucks drive them to the delivery bases and bases of delivery. "Delivery one day after posting is standard today", says bernhard michels, head of the kitzingen package center. According to DHL’s own figures, this is achieved for 82 percent of shipments.
Modern technology increases the tempo
When the parcel center went into operation 25 years ago, the delivery time for parcels was still more like three to four days. Thanks to the technology, which has been modernized several times in the meantime, many things can now be done more quickly. Today, a machine distributes more than 28,000 parcels an hour, which fly over the conveyor belts at a speed of two meters per second. In 1994, 18,000 parcels per hour, michels reports.
In the beginning, they handled 40,000 shipments a day, remembers shift supervisor jurgen gopfert from eibelstadt (lkr. Wurzburg), one of the first employees, remembers the time 25 years ago. Thanks to technology, the number of employees – at that time still postal workers – has remained more or less the same since then, although the number of parcels has multiplied. At peak times, just before christmas, more than 450,000 shipments pass through the parcel center. Then there are an additional 150 seasonal workers, explains the head of the center, which is still looking for permanent employees.
If you consider the volume of shipments that have been sent all over the world from kitzingen over the past 25 years, you quickly reach astronomical figures: DHL talks about 1.5 billion – a number with eight zeros at the end. "If you lined up all the parcels, you could circumnavigate the earth about twelve times. If we stacked this quantity, we would reach the moon", the head of the parcel center tries to make this number clearer.