FRANCE. 2015, the new NABANCO postal kiosks

In late June 2015, after several months of tests, La Poste unveiled the new NABANCO postal kiosk (Nouvel Automate BANcaire COurrier colis).

This new equipment is a further step towards the development of postal kiosks already installed in major French post offices.

In mid-2015, La Poste had 5,850 postal kiosks in service. 4,750 IER - LISA 2 XP (upper image, right) and Évolution machines, some of them in service for over 10 years, plus 1,100 new generation IER 950 and Wincor Nixdorf Nabucco kiosks, installed from March 2011 (see article, also published in VARIABLE 22). The use of this equipment, as well as its turnover, has increased in recent years, and surveys show that users are very satisfied with them. Most of the basic postal operations are carried out in these kiosks, which have reduced the waiting lines at post offices.

Nabanco postal kiosks are manufactured by the French company IER.
Using a 17-inch touch screen and the scale at the top of the machine, the new equipment allows the franking of postal items. It also allows the purchase of self-service products through the built-in bar code reader, tracking of shipments, inquiry of postage rates, etc. On top of this, new services will be implemented in subsequent phases, such as access to some banking services, recharging of La Poste Mobile prepaid cards, or collecting orders placed through Internet.

Furthermore, with the reduction to 15 cents of the minimum value at which it was possible to pay by card, this payment system became the main means of payment in postal kiosks. So much so, that in the new Nabanco equipment it is no longer possible to pay with coins, only with debit / credit, contactless, and pre-paid cards. The removal of the ‘change purse’ device will reduce, significantly, the equipment maintenance and malfunction. However, the Nabanco kiosks does not allow the purchase of booklets of stamps. In short, simpler equipment in construction, less maintenance and, very important, without any money or value inside.

The Nabanco project even goes a step further, as it involves the replacement of current labels with a pre-printed security background, which are expensive and requires special control, with the issue of new vignettes or variable value stamps printed on thermal self-adhesive white labels. For security reasons, the new stamps include a 2D Datamatrix code, recognized by the mail processing equipment.

La Poste has planned the installation of 100 Nabanco kiosks in small post offices that were not equipped with kiosks, or to complement the machines already installed in other branches.

The pilot phase

The first Nabanco postal kiosk was installed, on March 5th 2015, in Nantes Beaulieu post office, in the Île de Nantes (upper images).
Four more machines were installed during the following week, in small post offices located around Paris, in the Île de France - Coubron (Seine-Saint-Denis), Mériel (Val-d'Oise), Villennes-sur-Seine (Yvelines) and Yerres (Essonne).
All kiosks were running for nearly five months as a pilot with the same software and rate program used by other postal kiosks in service, and issuing variable value stamps on rolls of labels with the 'Paper planes' definitive design. The impression on the stamps during this period was identical to that made by the IER 950 Nabucco kiosks.

After this long test phase, and as planned for the Nabanco project, the next step was to replace the rolls of pre-printed labels with simple rolls of thermal white self-adhesive labels, and install the new software. These changes were made on August 3rd 2015.

In addition to changing the font size and characteristics of the face value indicators, the new program adds a perimeter frame to the stamp, with the text 'FRANCE - LA POSTE' at the top, and a 2D Datamatrix code on the bottom right corner of the stamps.

While waiting for the arrival of the rolls of labels on white paper and a visit from the technician to make the necessary adjustments, a special software was programmed, temporarily, into the four kiosks installed in the Île de France post offices. Stamps issued during this period already had some of the features of the final program, but did not include the 2D Datamatrix code. In addition, with the lack of white labels, they used the rolls of label available, with the 'Paper planes' definitive design (right image and below).

In Mériel, white labels were used in the kiosk from the afternoon of September 3rd, before modifying the program on the morning of the next day. So this printing variety was also available, for a few hours, on white paper labels.
By the end of September, the Villennes kiosk was also issuing stamps on white paper, without the 2D code (right image).

the stamps issued with this provisional program, with no shipping type indicator, do not include the perimeter frame, only the face value.

The kiosk installed in the Nantes Beaulieu post office was the first to be programmed with the final software, and to use the new white labels. Stamps issued from August 3rd includes the 2D Datamatrix code.
The other kiosks were modified over the following weeks.

Unfortunately, both the impression and the thermal papers used in the new Nabanco stamps are of poor quality, and printing degrades / fades quickly. However, it is important to remember that these issues are not intended for collecting, but for postal usage.

From the first day, August 3rd, Nabanco kiosks have had numerous breakdowns. The visit of collectors interested in obtaining the new stamps, sometimes issuing large quantities of vignettes, aggravated the problems. Lack of receipt printing, vertically displaced imprints, stamps printed 'à cheval' between two labels (images below), ...
So much so that during a visit in mid-September to the Nantes Beaulieu post office, the person in charge of maintenance became pretty upset with the visit of collectors and the continuous breakdowns of the kiosk and warned that the machine was only intended to issue a few stamps at each operation, and to wait several minutes before the next purchase. After several further failures, she decided to turn off the machine.
Right, first day of issue receipt of the new white Nabanco stamps (Automate NAB).

Apparently, a part of the problems were caused by the use of the new rolls of white labels, although kiosks had malfunctions before using these rolls.

During the following weeks, La Poste and IER technicians, repaired and modified the kiosks to try to solve the problems, with no success. So in mid-October 2015, they decided to keep the software, but replace the label rolls on white paper for the initial rolls with the 'Paper planes' definitive design.

(To be continued)

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This page was created in September 2015
and last updated:  19.12.15 . English edition rewritten by S. Goodman (10.12.2015)