NPI Delivers ‘Efficiency Through Innovation’ for the Ever-Evolving Post and E-commerce Markets
It would be difficult for any supply chain to succeed without efficiency and a focus on innovation. New ideas and an efficient way of executing them are key in keeping supply chains moving smoothly, especially when it comes to moving packages and parcels. As a leader in package sorting and mailing markets, NPI understands this well, which is why it remains dedicated to providing “efficiency through innovation.” The company’s commitment to innovation has allowed it to provide cutting-edge automation since 1977, and customers continue to find value in all it has to offer.
“What we pride ourselves on is innovation,” COO Brent Daboub stresses. “The fact that we continuously improve and push technology forward is something we all get excited about. We ran a parcels sorting facility for seven years. By having a sorting facility nearby, that we operated, our engineers could interact with the operations people and figure out what the operator needed.
“Our focus is to make our customers successful, and we take that very seriously,” he continues. “This is not about just selling a piece of hardware to a customer – we want to make sure we are helping the customer to be more efficient.”
This efficiency focus drives NPI forward and keeps it competitive in a quickly evolving industry. The company got its start as one of the first automated presort bureaus, based in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Henry Daboub, Brent’s father, founded the company in 1977 when he produced the first fully automated mail sorting machine. The family’s dedication to solving problems quickly, safely and efficiently continues to fuel the company today. This is what has allowed NPI to serve customers around the world for the past 40-plus years.
NPI offers affordable, high-quality, high-speed and low-maintenance machines that meet the highest expectations in automated parcel and mail sorting. Additionally, it does this with the industry’s most compact design. NPI’s exclusive technology can be configured into a number of modular designs depending on the needs of its customers in terms of labor efficiency, floor space and cost. With its focus on best-in-class sorting solutions, NPI has equipment operating in more than 20 countries worldwide, all functioning specific to each customers’ need.
Major customers include distributors, manufacturers, 3PLs, posts, courier companies , as well as mail production companies and operations in the financial, insurance, DVD rental, retail and general merchandising industries.
“What I admire is that NPI develops these products with the operator in mind,” explains Marco Oropeza, Vice President Business Development. “NPI designs the machine while thinking about the person running the machine. Our engineers are thinking, what does the customer need and what does the customer want? They understand the processes our customers use, so that’s how the machines are developed.”
The company notes one of its strongest innovations is the Xstream dual infeed parcel sorter, which is in use by some of the largest companies in parcel delivery. NPI’s Xstream has a throughput of up to 30,000 parcels and flats per hour, and is equipped with a multi-sided omni-directional barcode reader. It is capable of handling 1D, 2D and postal barcodes, and can sort plastic, poly-wrap, boxes, flats and most irregular pieces. Additionally, NPI can enhance the Xstream with an upgraded dumper, a larger-capacity hopper, and new patent-pending infeed designs.
NPI serves domestic customers such as the U.S. Postal Service, Pitney Bowes, Allstate, Netflix and DHL, as well as international clients like Royal Mail of the United Kingdom, Flash Courier in Brazil, Australia Post and Poste Maroc in Morocco. All of its customers are supported with letter and flat-sorter technology – equipped with a patented system to prevent jams – and an industry-leading software suite.
Sorters are NPI’s forte’, which allows them to continually evolve their product line and technology to meet the demanding needs of its client base. “We put our third-generation Xstream into production last year, and it contains three new patents that have been applied for,” Daboub says. “About 12-15 years ago, we were only producing flat and letter sorters, but we realized that industry was declining. We decided to create a strategy and enter the ecommerce parcel industry, and quickly started developing products for that market. Our customers’ were transitioning to e-commerce, so we were too. Our focus is on the customer. ”
Right now, you have to be efficient with faster throughput to compete with Amazon and other major retailers, Daboub explains. The logistics industry used to think about deliveries in one to two weeks, but now everyone must respond to consumer expectations for delivery in one to two days. Some geographic markets have to deliver orders within hours, meaning there are tight windows in which to expedite product.
“There is ecommerce deliveries, logistics, couriers and returns processing,” he adds. “At least 30 percent of all packages delivered are returned, and that percentage is growing. There will always be brick-and-mortar retail and warehouse distribution, so we are continuing to find ways to automate. The growth of ecommerce is pushing the industry toward more expedited processing.
“We provide everything that has to do with sorting,” he continues. “If you need to read it, count it, scan it, weigh it, sort it or convey it – all of our products and services are focused around one core competency. We are automating the processes because we are laser-focused on addressing this market.”
NPI is investing heavily into robotics as a way to help customers deal with labor shortages, especially during peak seasons for ecommerce. As always, Daboub says, NPI has taken an innovative approach to developing robotics in its products, and the company plans to release this technology in 2020. He stresses, however, that none of this innovation or continuous improvement would be possible without its dedicated workforce.
“This is a family company,” Daboub says. “It was founded by my father and we’ve been true to form throughout our history. We take the same approach with employees that we do with our customers. People deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Administration Manager and Paralegal Charity DeVille is relatively new to the company, but she’s impressed by how NPI interacts with its people. “We get down into the trenches so we are on the fighting lines with the operational soldiers to see everything they are doing,” she says. “I’m blown away by the fact that 20 percent of our employees have been here for more than 20 years. That is unheard of in any industry today.”
The consistency in its employee base enables NPI to retain legacy knowledge and have less disruption to its operations. “People here are allowed to have an open mind and express their creativity, in fact, creativity is welcomed and applauded,” Oropeza says. “That really puts us at the forefront of innovation because we have some of the most top-notch, intelligent people on our team. One time we came up with a design, and during testing, our production supervisor suggested changes we could make to improve the product’s operation, we listened and implemented the idea in a heart beat . We don’t have big corporate roadblocks here – we get things approved and out the door faster.”
Daboub explains the strength of its staff and dedication to innovation allows NPI to reach out to customers, person to person, to understand their needs and help them respond to market changes. “Our vision is to continue to innovate and provide best-in-class systems and support for an industry that is continuously evolving,” he says. “The push for ecommerce efficiencies has happened over a span of time, but it seems like it is snowballing. There may be more consolidation between brick-and-mortar retail and ecommerce, such as the partnership with Walmart and FedEx, with some stores also becoming distribution sites for ecommerce. We will see more innovation in how products get to the end user, and NPI will be there to support its customers every step of the way.
Original Author: Retail & Hospitality Hub