• on Oct 24th, 2008 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 10 comments

    USPS Mail Transport Equipment (MTE) consists of specialized containers such as sacks, pouches, trays, hampers, over-the-road containers and pallets. The Postal Service has more than 1.1 billion pieces of MTE, which is used at close to 400 processing facilities, over 33,000 post offices and hundreds of major mailers nationwide to help achieve the safe, secure and timely movement of mail between Postal Service facilities and its customers or contractors.

    MTE is a valuable and essential Postal Service asset, and it is imperative that facilities or customers do not overstock (hoard) MTE.  MTE may be used only to transport mail, and borrowers of MTE (such as private mailers) are responsible for its proper use and return.

    A key type of MTE is the plastic pallet, a rigid platform on which mail is stacked for movement as a single unit.  The plastic pallet is orange and black with Postal markings.  The Postal Service adopted plastic pallets more than 20 years ago since they are lighter, more durable, longer-lasting, and easier to store than wooden ones.

    Unfortunately, the Postal Service has been experiencing a significant loss of plastic pallets over the last couple of years – up to 1.8 million pallets worth millions of dollars cannot be accounted for.  Realizing the significant cost of leakage of MTE from its inventory, the Postal Service has numerous efforts to both investigate MTE inventory leakage and better track and understand the movement of their MTE inventory.  The Postal Inspection Service has been proactive in both reaching out to the public on this issue, and investigating MTE theft and misuse.  In addition, the Postal Service has piloted the use of small GPS tracking devices in plastic pallets. The pilot resulted in the location of pallets used for non-Postal purposes. However, applying that particular tracking mechanism to all Postal Service pallets is not cost effective.  The Postal Service has asked the OIG for assistance.

    We would like to solicit the knowledge and opinions of Postal Service employees and the mailing community regarding:

    • Purchasing and inventory management strategies that minimize the total cost of ownership of MTE, particularly pallets.
    • MTE logistics – how can we get the right equipment to the right place at the right time?
    • Suggestions to improve Postal Service outreach to the public and to customers about the impact of MTE misuse and assistance in returning it to the Postal Service inventory.
    • Reporting any instances of MTE being stored in excess within the Postal Service network, or misused outside of the Postal Service network.

    If you know of MTE being used for non-postal purposes or being stored in excess, please report the misused or stolen equipment – it would have a positive financial impact on Postal Service operations nationwide.  If you see MTE such as pallets, flat tubs, trays or hampers that are outside the postal network, send an e-mail to hqmte[at]usps[dot]gov with the location, type and quantities of equipment to be retrieved and placed back into postal inventory.