World market share
Francotyp-Postalia is a leading, internationally operating manufacturer of franking machines for the outgoing mail market. Francotyp-Postalia develops, produces and sells mail franking machines, inserting machines and related services, and the company is a German market leader.
Following changes to market demands, Francotyp-Postalia decided to improve one of its core products, the franking machine, by improving its operational performance. The franking system consists of one main unit, the franking machine, and a set of peripheral components.
One of the most sensitive units – and the one that most critically affects the franking process – is the dynamic scale unit, which weighs letters and packages. The franking machine calculates the cost of postage based on this information.
Francotyp-Postalia needed to improve the processing time of the dynamic scale unit and the overall franking process while retaining existing functionality, all without affecting weighing precision.
To minimise costs, Francotyp-Postalia stipulated that only the system software be modified, leaving the hardware and mechanics untouched. Before an end-customer can use a franking machine it must be customised, which involves loading country- and customer-specific software and data.
Our task was to improve the performance of Francotyp-Postalia’s Franking Machine Customisation (FMC) system, to support the automation of the customisation process. The FMC is integrated with the SAP ERP system, so testing it requires creating dummy data in the live SAP system. We developed a system for Francotyp-Postalia that would simulate the SAP interface to the FMC to allow FMC functioning in the absence of the real SAP system.
Our project achieved R&D cost savings for Francotyp-Postalia of more than 30%, achieving increased motor speed at specific phases of the franking process. The results of the research done by our engineers enabled a 30% reduction in printing time, thanks to an improved weighing algorithm that now accounts for the physics behind the weighing process.
Microcontroller Philips 80C552
Keil RTX51 Real-Time Kernel v5.10
Keil C51 Compiler and Utilities v5.5
TRACE32 In-Circuit Emulator