ADT Degree Shows: The Thinking Post Box

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 ADT Degree Shows: The Thinking Post Box

Date posted: 8 June 2006

Ex-postie Chris Banks has come up with a first class idea - to develop a new style post box to tackle vandalism, boost efficiency and make life a little easier for his former colleagues.

The BA Hons Creative Product Design And Marketing student has produced a 21st Century Royal Mail post box as part of his final year degree at the University of Derby.

His work will be on display next week at the University's end of year Arts, Design and Technology Degree Show, being held at Kedleston Road, Derby.

The 25-year-old, from Catesby Avenue, Rugby, was a postman for three years in his hometown. He interviewed former colleagues, hundreds of customers and Mike Savage, Head of Marketing at Royal Mail in London, as part of his research.

He said: "I have worked in the industry and thought that to try to improve the design from an ergonomics and security perspective would be good. I am very pleased with the final designs and hope they provide food for thought for Royal Mail as possible futuristic designs."

Chris has applied for a patent for his design and hopes to send his ideas to Royal Mail for consideration.

The most striking aspect of Chris' design is a closed letter box opening which requires the consumer to insert a chip card into a keypad on the front of the box and key in their personal pin in order for the flap to open electronically to post a letter.

Chris said: "Thousands of letters a year are destroyed by wanton vandalism - people putting dog waste, fireworks and other rubbish in the boxes.

"My design minimises the risk of this and other threats such as terrorism as the post box will only allow people serious about posting a letter or parcel to do so."

The electronic keypad and weighing chute allow people to weigh their parcels and pay any extra charge there is, as opposed to visiting the Post Office, although the standard first and second class stamps would still feature.

Another key innovation is the introduction of an electronic forklift style mechanism inside the post box which holds three baskets and swaps the top basket to the bottom when it is full.

The move has been made to stop letters being lost when the postman opens the door to the post box and allows him to electronically move the baskets around and empty the top box without having to bend down.

Chris said: "Collecting mail has its hazards as with any job. My design should help stop the postman having to keep bending down to pick up letters and could prevent back injuries happening. It also helps the postman in their day-to-day job.

"With the traditional design you could do with three hands to collect mail! One to hold the door open, another to hold the mail sack and a third to open the chute.

"Obviously, it means postmen struggle to access the mail with just two hands and injuries result from trapped hands as well. I see benefits for all with my designs."

However, it's not all change for the new-style post box.

Chris concludes: "In the final designs, the post box, with its steeped 300-year tradition retains its red exterior and black base as my research indicated a strong affinity from the public to these colours. I think there could be national outrage if the colours were changed."

However, Chris has produced concepts of different colour post boxes emblazoned with the colours of other delivery companies such as Fed-Ex (white, blue and red) and UPS (yellow and red/brown).

He states neither has indicated a strong interest in the mail delivery market but has nevertheless produced possible concepts.

His lecturer, Karl Hurn, a Senior Lecturer in Computer Aided Design at the University, said: "Chris' idea is sound and he has the background of a postman to help him come up with these ideas.

"The mail service in the UK is a 21st Century service using a 19th Century collection process. His ideas are practical and could benefit the postal service in the long-term."

Royal Mail's External Relations Manager Sue Dakin said: "As a dynamic business we are always looking for ways of improving our service.

"Chris's design concept would certainly seem to have some interesting features and we look forward to receiving his proposal for future consideration."


For further information call: Simon Redfern, Senior Press and PR Officer, University of Derby on 01332 591942, email

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