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Vanderlande helps DPD reach peak performance

Vanderlande helps DPD reach peak performance
Incoming shipments are placed on ergonomically designed telescopic belt conveyors

DPD’s newly built parcel sorting centre in Erftstadt near Cologne, Germany, is one of the most modern and high-performance DPD sites in Europe. Covering 8.3ha, it houses more than 320 delivery bays.

The ultra-modern system processes more than 18,000 parcels per hour. In addition to parcels it is also capable of transportation and automated sorting of tires and stacks of tires. Vanderlande was responsible for equipping the building with powerful and highly efficient automatic sorting and conveying technology.


Trucks are unloaded at the centre of the site and parcels enter the system via 24 feed lines. Operators manually place incoming shipments on ergonomically designed telescopic belt conveyors.

Five additional unloading bays on each side of the building make it possible to unload smaller vehicles. Operators place unloaded parcels on one of two retrieval conveyors, which then transport them into the downline conveying system. A shared retrieval conveyor connects the five bays on each side to each other.

After unloading, various cartons and items are identified and separated on each input line. The system recognises the items based on their size and weight, and categorises them as small, normal or non-conveyable (NC). The items are subsequently sorted using two-way Vertisorters and transported to their appropriate handling areas.

Parcel handling

Once unloaded, normal-sized parcels are transported to the output sorting system on telescopic belt conveyors. The parcels head to the higher-level input areas for the main sorting loops via an inclined conveying system. Initially, the parcels are transported onto a merging unit. Each of these is fed by four input lines and transports the merged flow of parcels to the appropriate inputs, or infeeds, for the outbound sorters.


NCs are unloaded in exactly the same way as normal items. However, when parcels reach the vertical sorter, NCs are diverted onto a separate conveying line. Operators responsible for unloading the vehicles can tag any parcel as an NC. If a parcel has not been tagged, but is identified by the system as being non-compliant with the criteria for a normal parcel, it is also diverted to the NC line.

Small parcels

Smaller items are transported separately to an automatic split-tray sorter, which is set up as a carousel. Items are individually placed by hand in the trays of the sorter. These two-part sorter trays open in a jaw-like manner above the sorting destination and deposit the parcels in the destination container.

Crossorter 1500

Two linked Crossorter 1500 sorting loops act as the output sorter for normal parcels and form the heart of the system. These units, each measuring more than 1,300ft in length, boast an innovative mechanical design and powerful handling capability. They run at 8ft/sec and can handle parcels up to 59in in length and 31.5in in width.

Parcels that have been consolidated at the small parcel sorter are automatically transported to the Crossorter 1500 via integrated conveyors and sorted to their final destination. Each individual unit is capable of sorting more than 10,000 parcels an hour.

Making efficient use of resources, Vanderlande’s Crossorter 1500 is also energy saving and has low running costs. An extensive total cost of ownership analysis performed before the project started provided a reliable and transparent indication of the expected costs during the system’s lifetime.

Swap bodies

Each of the two sorters provides 164 outfeeds. Of these, 120 are configured as swap body outfeeds, which each connect to a swap body via a gravity-fed telescopic roller conveying system. The remaining 44 small vehicle outfeeds open onto queuing conveyors. Operators remove the sorted parcels from these conveyors and place them in the delivery vehicles.

“The collaboration with Vanderlande has given us the capability of handling an enormous variety of parcel types with maximum efficiency in Erftstadt,” says depot manager Martin Klein. “We process extremely high volumes, which we successfully manage with the aid of our high-performance sorting technology.”

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