Automation on rise at An Post but ‘mass redundancies’ not on horizon

Postal company officially opens €15m parcel hub stretching to 50,000sqm in Clondalkin

European trade commissioner Phil Hogan and An Post staff at the opening of the company’s largely automated parcel hub in Clondalkin, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

The rise of automation will lead to fewer staff being required by An Post in the next three to four years, the company's managing director of mail and parcels has said.

Garrett Bridgeman said An Post would modify its staffing levels as it moves its focus from letters to parcels but there would not be "any mass redundancies" as a result.

Mr Bridgeman was speaking at the official opening of the company's €15 million parcel hub in Clondalkin, Dublin. The 50,000sqm facility has increased An Post's parcel processing capacity and it handled more than one million parcels in the last week as online shopping boomed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

An Post said the Beumer technology used in the centre means 13,000 parcels can be processed there every hour. The technology learns as it goes and and can recognise all Irish locations, An Post said. The operation was once a largely manual set-up but it is now 90 per cent automated.


Mr Bridgeman said automation had allowed An Post “to take in more capacity, without hiring more staff”. He said the company would still need people to collect, deliver and transport parcels and that it aims to remain “a huge employer”.

There are currently 120 people employed at the parcel hub and a further 500 working next door at its Dublin mail centre, which is to increase to 880 over the Christmas period.

An Post said it processed more than 30 million parcels last year, a 42 per cent increase on 2017, and expected “another large volume increase” this year and into the future.

Speaking at the official opening of the centre, European trade commissioner Phil Hogan said there had been "a lot of worries" that developments in technology would lead to mass unemployment.

"We have full employment in Ireland effectively and the tech companies are here in force. So at the end of the day, I think that argument has not stood up to the test of time."

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times