Postal Automation.

Automation is a way of letting a machine do often monotonous work. The main work processes are the in broad categories of stamping, cancellation, sorting and distribution. But automation has affected almost every area of communication via the transport and delivery of mail objects as it has affected most other forms of communication. Automation is also an important part of the Swedish postal history.




  In post offices the following tasks may be automated: transport, segregation, facing, cancelling stamps, stamping, class sorting, destination sorting, quality of service marking and distribution.


Visit in Gothenburg Postal Center 2004-11-04 text in Swedish, but 30 pictures in English ;-))

Post Expo 2001

POST-EXPO 2001 brings new generation postal technology to Geneva, Switzerland. 24/09/01


Pitney Bowes mashine DM900 useing for cansellation stamps on flat envelope (C4) in Sweden since oct. 2008
Main page   PMSC     Automation  Meterstamp Flaggaeng Transorma  Flaggaeng 
Swedish Meters (S)s Cinderella Meters (S) Telephone Postcard in Swedish.  Postal collection of curioser (S) Comparison  Flaggaeng


(S)   = in Swedish  


 = in English

Shortcut to some parts on this page.

Introduction Cancellation Letter sorting Distribution Wave lines return

Transorma at the bottom of the page

In Swedish   In English
BSM = Brevsorteringsmaskin <==> LSM = Letter Sorting Machine
GSM = Grovsorteringsmaskin <==>      ?
FSM = Finsorteringsmaskin <==>      ?
SSM = Storsorteringsmaskin <==> FSM = Flat Sorting Machine



This page will show some examples of  how the automation of the postal services has affected covers and letters through the years. The gradual transformation to Årsta, which started in the autumn of 1998, was nearly complete by March 2000. On the 1st of April the same year, the Klara terminal was abandoned as a letter sorting office. The Klara terminal had been used since 1987. The new Årsta terminal was inaugurated by Carl Cederschiöld on the 22nd of  May 2000.



Stamping is applying post-paid marks to contract-handled and bulk mail.

There are several different ways to simplify "stamping" a letter. Official matter, Port Paye´, Bulk mail, Meter stamping and different Franking machin. Meter Franking machine were first used in Sweden on the 1st of  October 1926.  


Cancellation - Stamp canceling machines

Canceling stamps is applying an ink mark to deface them and destroy their value.

In Sweden the postmarking of letters to cancel stamps has been done mechanically since 1891 when O.R. Lennholm constructed his machine, which was used in Stockholm until 1905. It was followed by several other kinds of machine-cancellers. (There is more information in Swedish: SFF:s Specialhandbok Nr 24 by L. Bergman G. Dahlstrand and O. Svahn.

In order to be able to cancel stamps by any method the letters have first to be faced. Facing is turning the mail so the address is all facing one way ready for canceling or stamping. Also in order to manage the whole process and to make it accountable - Quality of Service QOS marks are also applied.

Quality of service marking is the marking of the date and time of processing and identification of the processing office to enable quality statistics to be checked on any item. It is often done at the same time as cancellation.

Letter sorting:

There are several types of sorting process required to deal with mail which are:- Segregation is the separation of pillar-box posted mail into small packets, large flat envelopes and small envelopes which are sorted in different ways.

Class sorting is separation into classes such as first (urgent) and second class etc.. Destination sorting is sorting into classified transport streams towards the eventual destination and may involve printing of a sorting codemark (a machine-readable address) on the mailpiece. As early as the 1930, Holland started to use a sorting machine called Transorma. This design of machine was also tested in about ten other countries including Sweden. In Sweden the test was unsuccessful and the machine was never used for full service. Machine sorting was also used in the old times of Stockholm Bans. In the early 70s there was a Telefunken sorting machine that sorted 2.500 letters per hour using manual coding. It was followed by AEG, NEC and Alcatel, machines that were combined to segregate different letter sizes, stamp, read addresses, code, and sort. The latest system, the  "IRM", has the highest speed of operation and capacity.


Transorma       BA, BB, BC and  BD tested in Linköping, Norrköping 1949-1951. Flaggaeng  Transorma sorting machine
AEG                | ||  | |||   | ||  || |  | | ||| | ||  
BSM    01     M70     || | | || ||   ||||| || | | |||              SSM, KSM and other.  
IRM         || | | || ||   ||||| || | | |||    
5 different machine  in Gothenburg sorting letters to Postcode (Zip code) 402 58  

POSTEN  970917   01:01 ÅRSTA  Look in  Filatelisten Nr:2 1998 page 81(in Swedish)

FL-Reader by Wessex Technology Next large automation “Det nya Brevnätet” (The new Letter net).

Posten has changed all the bar code (Codemark) readers in their Alcatel/Mannesman machines (SSM) and GSM's and FSM to FL-Readers manufactured by Wessex Technology. Posten have done this because of the great reading performance and low maintenance. 

Wessex had a previous project with Posten in 1995/6 where they changed all the readers in the NEC Machinery.

Under the orange BSM-code an InkJet-printer will right date, time and place in black. Look at VideoJet example further down this page.

RE-mail by Posten and some Travel bureaus, Turistporto, DHL (in Swedish).

 Britain is a country that has tested a lot of sorting-systems. Examples are:- Transorma, Six Position letter sorting machine 6PLSM) Single position letter sorting machine (SPLSM),  Elliot and other Code-Sort systems, UK OCR prototype, AEG OCR systems, OCR-Video systems and currently Integrated Mail Processors (IMP). The 20-years old  PMSC  (Postal Mechanization Study Circle) is studying all types of systems, from all over the world.

Mailnews for Sweden 2003.

Next year (2004) there will be a new advanced Toshiba TT-1000 Mail-Sorting System installed in Sweden.

Take a lock at this link


   Vänligen rapportera problem eller felaktiga länkar på denna webplats till.==>    Please report any problems or missing links on this Web site to ....   ==>  


Distribution is the final process of transporting the classified mail to the destination.

In most originating sorting offices it will control the type of package the mail is put in, eg. bundle, bag, container and form of transport, eg. postman, conveyer belt, truck, train, plane etc. the mail is loaded on. At the receiving (distribution) office the mail has to be sorted again to bundles for each address.

1996-04-01 the realization of  Det nya Brevnätet(The new letter-net)  started to reduce the 56 post terminals to 13 head terminals and 6 service terminals. At this time they also started to use the technique more seriously and a logistic “letter-net” was built up between the 13 terminals. Because of this, the number of machine stamps are reduced. The sorting machines (IRM) have become both quicker and more powerful. 

New stamp cancelling machine- – Ink-Jet printer.

Stage one (I).

The philatelist who had the luck to have friends in Gothenburg, Malmö, Norrköping or Uppsala could possibly discover a totally new cancelling machine on Christmas cards in 1998. If we for instance look at Poseidon (the statue) in the Gothenburg cancelling machine, we can tell he has become smaller, on his right hand side we can see five wave lines, which end up with a "post horn" in a 13 mm circle.  

This machine should be a Pitney Bowes U700. Since it has got two ink-jet-sprayers (or ?), there might be a small displacement between the upper and lower half of the cancellation. The frame around the picture can sometimes even be missing. Occasionally "Poseidon" has been re-used as late as in March and April. (More in the magazine Filatelisten no.5, 1999, p. 294 only in Swedish)

Link to picture:

Statue Poseidon - Göteborg Willow-avenue - Malmö Tram - Norrköping Cathedral - Uppsala

Stage two (II).

The next test was made in Klara. This time with eight wave lines and a slightly bigger post horn (18mm). This is the same kind of machine that has been tested and used elsewhere e.g. in  England. Take a look at an English letter and you will recognize the eight wave lines. This test took place on only one day, the 20th of February 1999. However, rumours tell us that it has been tested later too. Surely more than one day was needed to tune up these technically complicated new products?



KLARA  SOL (The Sun)


Stage three - IRM.

A person who is used to sorting can handle 750 letters per hour. The new IRM-machine can handle 32.000 letters per hour. Though it takes almost 25 people to run it.

(On some machines in UK some operators can reach 3000 per hour - nearly one per second!)

IRMIntegrated Raising- and sorting-machine. (Integrerad Resnings- och sorteringsMaskin)

SRM =  only Raising-machine. (Resningsmaskin)  

There are different lengths on the 8 wave lines. 20mm, 40mm and 60mm. (Look at picture Uppsala IRM 106.) The official start of Uppsala should have been on the 7th of June 1999, but was delayed until the 17th of June 1999 because of a mishap with the machine.

Tomteboda IRM 101

Uppsala IRM 106

Västerås IRM 107

Norrköping IRM 108

On the 17th of May 1999 the installation of the Tomteboda IRM101 was completed. It was followed by Uppsala IRM106 (1999-06-17), Malmö IRM114 (1999-06-28), Västerås IRM? Etc. All together there are now15 new machines to be started, at a rate of approximately one every month. They should all have been running by May 2000. Let's just hope the new Millennium gives us cancelling-fans a few nice surprises.

The "Skvadern" in Sundsvall will probably be back. Unfortunately the Borlänge and Hässleholm terminals will disappear, but the latest one will make the IRM in Malmö busier.

 Malmö IRM 114




Eight (8) wave lines will become five (5) ?

A new variation with only five wave lines  has been seen. It looks a bit like the one I talked about in phase one. This has only been seen on the back of an A5 envelope on which it said: 

At the same time the word IRM is taken away leaving only place and number. The other terminals will start using five instead of eight wave lines in the beginning of October.

Malmö OE LETTER 1999-08-04. Which application area does this have?

Malmö  OE  LETTER  

Alvesta 118  5 wavelines 1999-11-01 Nässjö 117 5 wavelines 1999-10-12


The wave lines  disappear totally:

In December 1999, the wave lines between the picture and the post horn, had totally gone. Anyway on the C6 envelopes this is done to make sure the text on printed matter do not get covered by the cancellation.

 We can now establish that there are three variations with eight wave lines, four with five wavy lines (20, 40 and 60mm) and those without wavy lines.


1999 Poseidon

Details from Christmas post, cancelled 1999-12-21
1999 Norrköping 108 Tram without wave lines, cancelled 99-12-01, sorted the same day.
1999 Umeå 084 Gold 24  K, cancelled and dated 99-12-01, sorted the same day.
2000 Nässjö 61 The thought behind using different lengths of wave lines should be to ensure all the stamps become defaced. Sometimes the customer cheats the machine by using 25x20 Öre (low value) stamps.
Uppsala 2001 Uppsala with 8 dots, maybe a rest from the 8 wave lines
2001-02-28 Last day. Around the picture there is a frame and to the rigt there are 5 wave lines
2001-03-01 First day. The frame is gone and there are only 4 wave lines. Take a look at, (The Sun) maybe those 8 dots is a rest of the 8 wave lines .

and now ? 

Letter cancelled 2001-05-14 and sorted the some day in Västerås IRM. The machine has 4 wave lines, since 2001-03-01 in all terminals. 
Letter cancelled 2001-05-16 has got 5 wave lines.  Did the  machine do it himself or how did it happend ?  I do not know how and why.
Letter cancelled 2001-05-17 at Tomteboda, one more time there are 5 wave lines and the frame around the sun is back.

Now I know that this was a "accident at work". Today 2001-08-01 all  terminals are "no frame and 4 wave lines".

EU-meeting in Göteborg 2001.
Au EU Gbg During the EU-meeting in Gothenburg there was a new picture in the ink-printer as from June 13th - to the end of the week. There are with and without  wave lines.
Auink w. lines On a bigger envelope there are Wave lines

I have got 2 of those EU-letter for sale.

Merry Christmas cancellation 2002.
Auink wo. lines From the date 2002-12-09 to 2002-12-22 there is a special text at all postcenters "GOD JUL OCH GOTT NYTT ÅR". This envelope is  without  wave lines.
Auink w. lines On a bigger envelope there are 40mm. Wave lines between the text and the horn. Canselled 2001-06-15
Au hyb 2002 NEWS. Hybrid post. Now you can order a Christmascard from your computor, coming physical to the receiver/addressee.

The wave lines return:

Automatic sorting.

 The previously tested ink spray printer is still used in the GSM and IRM machines. The post sack is emptied on the belt conveyer and in just a few seconds the post is sorted in blue boxes at the other end of the conveyer belt.

Manual sorting  

2000-01-01 the printed block in the machine stamp of the old PVI type is changed. This is done in most of the terminals. On the right hand side of the picture block there is now 3-4mm long, wave lines and a post horn (17mm) instead of the earlier round Posten Sverige (2,5mm). You could in these, see six figures that showed the date of cancellation. In certain places, with a different machine type (Hasler, Krag) they still use printed blocks with six figures.

The new machine has got eight figures, of which the first two (20) are permanent. Besides, the Borlänge and Hässleholm (Snapphanen) terminals are going to disappear in August 2000, but the envelopes still need to be cancelled by a new stamp of the good old PVI-type.

 Snapphanen Ptm 02-04, below, shows the three different Hässleholm machine prints.

Snapphanen 2000

Poseidon 2000

Norrköping 2000

Klara 2000

Snapphanen Ptm02-04


Arlanda 034

Nässjö without wavelines IOGT

New sorting machine in Arlanda ?  Letter from "De Dd Cymru  SE Wales"  to Gothenburg sorted "POSTEN 2000-11-14  ARN 034". Look  at picture "Arlanda 034" above. All covers from foreign countries will be sorted at Arlanda.

POSTEN 1999-05-17 02:30 GÖTEBORG 040

The little black text at the bottom of the envelopes will from week 917 look like the above if it for instance has passed through machine 40 in Gothenburg. The date/year must be complete. In computer language you normally see YYYY-MM-DD. This though, is still (2000-02-10) not used everywhere. Besides, the IRM machines have come too. 


Written 11-11-1999

This day is an odd day, meaning that all of the digits in today's date are odd, 19-11-1999. The next odd day after today will be 11-11-3111 (over a thousand years away), which WE will never see. Now you have a reason to celebrate, as it will be your last odd day on earth!!!  

Have a nice Odd day!

The next even day will be 02-02-2000 (the first one since 28-8-0888).
Two object odd day  A picture of tree cut pieces. 
Two objekt even day. VideoJet from Nässjö 80 all even day.

Thanks to Bob de Vekey

Examples of sorting machine marks from other countries.
The Machine Picture from the book "Postens årsbok 1949" The machine tested in "Linköping - Norrköping"
Transorma Brighton 6 Nov 1937 Brighton & Hove with red F sent to Sweden
Transorma Brighton 4 Jly 1949 Brighton & Hove with red 30. The Transorma-machine in Linköping started 21 Oct 1949.
London S.W.84 3 apr 1984 with 9 red figures (looks like lying E)  on a Postcard sent to Sweden. This is in fact a SPLSM mark E which was normally repeated. This SPLSM was used by the foreign section at Mount Pleasant. Many thanks to Duncan Hill.
Transorma Rotterdam 7-IV 1934 on a 2½ cent Meter stamp with a red F sent to Sweden. Value, 2½ cent.
Transorma Norrköping 17.4.1950 Norrköping, 30 öre Meter stamp with a colorless AJ, which normally is in black. See detail
Transorma detail There are max. 5 black AJ  Transorma known from Norrköping. All known are from 1949. This is the first colorless. Probably they had forgotten to change the ribbon.

Pree-Paid letters: 1998 - 2002

The cover are in 228x162 mm (C5) and 323x229 mm (C4).

2002 (type 3) there are at least 15 types of envelopes in different styles. Letters for inland and letters for abroad.

Yellow  background Blue  background Blue  envelope on yellow  background
Type 1. (58x25 mm) Cancelled 1999-09-03 Type 2. (58x25 mm) 2000-?-? Type 3. (23x23 mm) 2001-10-24

Links to:

AEG   Postal Automation

e-stamp = e-frimärke


Swedish Postnumber Flaggaeng  PMSC Atlas - häfte - Booklet
Göteborgs - GFF Links to Postal Codes all over the world SSPD
UK Meter Franking Danish Postal history: Nørbyhus Flaggaeng Remail   Alex Gundel
Post Expo 2001 POST-EXPO 2001 brings new generation postal technology to Geneva, Switzerland. 24/09/01
   Vänligen rapportera problem eller felaktiga länkar på denna webplats till.==> Please report any problems or missing links on this Web site to ....   ==>

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