Chapter II      Postal Operations go to the 2001 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations front page go to the table of contents go to the previous page go to the next page
F. Mail Distribution

    1. Automation Activities
The Postal Service continues to focus on automating mail distribution operations to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The foundation of this effort is based on barcode technology, which includes generating barcoded mail, processing barcoded mail in automated operations and adjusting the workforce as necessary to capture savings.

        a. Letter Mail Automation
In 2001, customers generated over 90 billion barcoded letters, representing about 61 percent of total letters. The Postal Service generated barcodes for another 42 billion - about 29 percent of all letters. Of the barcodes we generated and applied to letters, Multiline Optical Character Readers (MLOCRs) and the Remote Bar Coding System (RBCS) accounted for about 19 billion. Other operations accounted for the remainder.

            1. New Equipment and Software
This year, the Postal Service continued its campaign to improve automated processing of letter mail through deployment of additional hardware and software. New automation equipment is allowing postal operations to keep pace with the increasing volume of letter mail and the growth of our delivery network. (See Table 2.3)

The deployment included 334 Delivery Bar Code Sorters, 198 Input/Output Sub-System Kits, and 246 Output Sub-System Kits. This equipment allows mail that was being processed manually to enter the automated mail stream, thereby reducing work hour requirements. Since 2000, the Postal Service has worked to increase the physical limits of mail that can be processed on automation equipment, thus increasing the amount of automated mail and reducing the amount of manual mail. Currently, about 8 percent of letter mail is processed manually. Yet, it accounts for one-half of the total letter mail processing labor costs. Letters can be processed using automation equipment at one-tenth the cost of manual processing.

In support of this effort, six prototype Delivery Bar Code Sorter Expanded Capability (DBCS-EC) machines have been deployed at three major processing plants. A contract for 25 Delivery Bar Code Sorters with Expanded Capability and 81 Expanded Capability kits was awarded in 2000. These EC kits, when added to our existing DBCS machines, allow them to process a wider range of mail than is currently possible. The DBCS-EC machines will be capable of handling flimsy mailpieces as well as thick and heavy items.

Letter mail recognition rates continued to rise in 2001 as we deployed additional hardware and software upgrades for our existing Multiline Optical Character Reader (MLOCR), Delivery Bar Code Sorter Input Output Subsystems (DIOSS) and Remoter Computer Readers (RCRs). The RCR 2000 program resulted in a 75 percent handwritten address encode rate. The Recognition Improvement Program (RIP) is projected to yield an approximately 88 percent overall system encode rate by 2004. During 2001, we tested and deployed improvements to 346 mail processing centers under this program. RIP is an incentive-based program where the vendor is paid based on incremental performance improvements (pay for performance).

We performed a competitive test for a replacement camera system/barcode reader for our deployed barcode sorters. A Wide-Field-Of-View (WFOV) camera system will replace the current Wide Area Bar Code Reader (WABCR) on the DBCS, DIOSS, and CSBCS machines. This camera system will read the Information Based Indicia (PC Postage) in addition to the POSTNET and PLANET barcodes read by the WABCR. The WFOV camera system demonstrated a significant improvement over the WABCR in reading POSTNET and PLANET barcodes during the competitive test. A purchase is planned for 2002, with national deployment beginning in 2003.

Assorted Flat Sorting Machine (ASFM)100s


Collection and Delivery Vehicles


CSBCS Stacker Modules


Delivery Bar Code Sorter Expanded Capability Kits


Mail Entry Verification Systems


Parcel Singulators/Readers


Recognition Improvement - Typed & Printed Addresses


Small Parcel and Bundle Sorter Control Systems




Greetings from Alabama

go to the 2001 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations front page go to the table of contents go to the previous page go to the next page   continue...