Enhancing Transportation Visibility
Surface Visibility describes the integration of multiple systems used to track mail across the postal network. Surface Visibility was originally designed exclusively to improve postal transportation, but was expanded to benefit the larger mailing community by making the entire mail value chain more transparent. Mail container barcodes are scanned as containers arrive at postal facilities. Container data is integrated with data from Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST), verifying acceptance and linking to the mailer’s electronic manifest. Information about a mailing is recorded as it first arrives at a facility and as container unloading begins and ends. The data serves two purposes: 1) it improves accountability for contractors who print, prepare and deliver mail to the facility; and 2) it logs when mail actually enters the postal network. Trucks and containers traveling between facilities are scanned and tracked from one step to the next, and quality controls embedded in the systems reduce misdirected and misdelivered mail.
Tracking Mail In Transit
Total visibility depends on an integrated set of systems and intelligent barcodes applied to individual mailpieces, to all handling units and containers, and to trailers as well. The Intelligent Mail Tray Label (IMTL), formerly known as the Enhanced Distribution Label, identifies the mail and provides a unique identifier for each tray, sack, or tub. IMTL routing data helps track unit loads; individual handling units are loaded or “nested” into barcoded containers, which are then nested into trailers via scanning of the trailer barcode. Two Web-based systems produce IMTLs, one for mailers and one for internal postal operations. Postal employees use the Automated Tray Label Assignment System to produce IMTLs. Mailers will use the new Customer Label Distribution System.
At delivery units, manifests identify drop-shipped mail (mail that by-passes processing at plants). For mail that arrives at delivery units from plants, intelligent barcodes on individual pieces have already been linked with barcoded containers. Finally, carriers use handheld scanners at the point of delivery for Express Mail, mail with Delivery Confirmation or Signature Confirmation service, and for other barcoded accountable mail.