New connected outdoor package lockers for the Finnish postal service

Suorakulmion mallinen Postin ulkoautomaatti.

The main Finnish postal service needed self-service, battery-operated package pick-up lockers that would work outdoors without an external power supply.

The Finnish postal service didn’t know if it was even possible, but they wanted package pick-up lockers that would work outdoors, summer and winter, and wouldn’t require an external power supply. The lockers needed to integrate with the existing postal network technology and each door needed a lock which could have a unique pick-up code for each package. And they needed to be affordable.

Parcel lockers are an increasingly popular way for consumers in Finland to receive their packages. In summer 2021, Posti had 2200 parcel locker points with a total of over 130 000 individual boxes, Posti’s network was growing by 10-15 parcel points and hundreds of lockers per week. With the growing online shopping market, the need for self-service pickup lockers was forecast to increase to 200 000 individual boxes in the coming years.

The existing locker network was entirely indoors and accessibility depended on the opening hours of the business or facility the locker was in. Outdoor, stand-alone lockers would solve this problem and provide 24/7 access. They would also fill gaps in service in areas where there was no space for new parcel points or to expand existing parcel points. Since the new lockers do not require any external power supply, they can be placed in a wider range of locations.

Approaching the problem

The main goal of Posti was to create an easy-to-place and independent lockers that can withstand the demanding weather conditions of Finland.

Kaltiot was involved in the project from the start, and worked on developing the original plan for how to approach such a challenging problem. This included searching for a partner that could provide functional, affordable physical locks that could be connected using Kaltiot’s software to the internet.

The finished outdoor lockers use physical locks made “smart” with the advanced wireless data transmission and connection technologies of Kaltiot’s IoT Internet systems, such as BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and LTE-M.

Postal service workers can load the lockers with packages using Posti’s own internal systems, which Kaltiot integrated the locker software into.

A person using Posti’s new outdoor locker.
It will be easier for customers to pick up their package. Photo: Posti

The biggest challenges were to create a low-energy, independent device using the best physical locking hardware, and to find technologies and materials suitable for Finnish weather conditions. The finished lockers run off less power than a typical car battery for about a full year.

The first outdoor lockers were introduced during the summer of 2021 in the cities of Espoo and Oulu.

Cooperative solutions give good results 

A strong team of Finnish technology partners was involved in the development of the outdoor lockers.

Among others, the University of Oulu, the Finnish state innovation company VTT, Juha Punta Oy, Solmu Technologies, elfGROUP, Verkotan, iProtoXi and ID-Systems IDS were also involved in the development work.

Finnish weather brings additional challenges to the design of outdoor lockers

Finland’s drastically varying weather conditions bring challenges to outdoor storage and technology. The lockers were put through several months of outdoor and cold laboratory condition tests and seemingly endless rounds of mechanical testing!

Thanks to these new outdoor lockers, it will be even easier for customers to pick up the package they ordered. Packages can be picked up close to home and around the clock at the most convenient time for the recipient.

Read more about Posti’s new automatic outdoor lockers:

Helsinki Times (June 8th, 2021): Posti introduces new outdoor lockers 

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