Like the components of a clock, everybody at Dundee’s central postage depot has an essential function to make sure everything runs smoothly.
And with the Christmas period seeing the team deliver more than 7,000 parcels a day, the operation is working double-time.
This year, the central delivery office in Edward Street will be dealing with around 3,000 more items a day in the run-up to December 25 than any other time of the year.
To ease the increase, 13 postal vans have been added to Dundee’s 205-vehicle fleet and an additional 30 temporary part-time staff have been hired.
As the Tele visited the depot to see the sheer volume of sorting that will be the norm for the next 24 days, one postman sorting his route said the period could be summed up in one word — “hectic”.
Sarah Ward, area manager for the DD postcode zone, said the increase in the amount of work means everyone working for Royal Mail has to work nearly every hour of the day to complete the daily deliveries.
She said: “The run-up to Christmas, without a doubt, is the busiest time for everyone. It’s all go.
“More staff are taken on and more vehicles are added to deal solely with the volume of parcels coming through the doors. There’s no annual leave at this time either.
“All hands need to be on deck to ensure that the increased volume of parcels are delivered promptly. The days get longer as well.
“Posties, who usually finish their shifts at 2.30pm or 3pm, will be working right through to 8pm or 9pm. Everyone has a vital job to do and every parcel has a place to go.”
The increase of Christmas cards causes the mail bags to bulge to bursting point — but in recent times it has been the increase of bulkier parcels which has been the biggest change dealt with by the posties.
Sarah, who has worked for Royal Mail for 12 years — operating as area manager for five of those — said people are ordering bulkier parcels compared to previous years.
She said: “With most entertainment now able to download, such as films and box sets, we are starting to see fewer of the DVD-sized parcels.
“We are also seeing that people are ordering fewer books as well.
“What we are having to deliver more of are the big parcels.
“These contain bigger, bulkier items which means vans are having to make more trips to and from the depot to finish their deliveries.
“The bigger the parcels, the less space there is in the van.
“There has also been a rise in the number of recorded deliveries which means we have to make sure the customer signs off on the delivery.
“The workload is demanding but it’s been handled really well.”
Cath Vaughan, 58, has been a postie for 23 years.
She said: “The work has increased considerably.
“When I started I would carry out two deliveries in the one day during the Christmas period.
“Now I’ll do about eight a day. It’s hard work but it needs to be done.”
Kevin Young, 40, another postman who started as temporary staff last year, said: “There’s one word for this time of the year — hectic — but we all work together and get the job done.”