• on Apr 11th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 31 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"]L[/dropcap]ast year Americans spent $155.2 billion in online shopping. This year they are projected to spend more than $190 billion. The delivery of these parcels and packages represent a large revenue opportunity for the U.S. Postal Service, especially if they can improve delivery times, package tracking and increase processing through automation and new technologies. One solution may be the use of radio frequency identification (RFID). Currently, the Postal Service uses barcode systems to manually track and scan packages. A RFID tracking system uses radio waves to transmit and track identifiable information about an object, which has a unique tag embedded with a microchip and an antenna. The chip could store product or shipment information, such as the sender’s and receiver’s addresses, package contents, or other relevant information.The technology would allow for greater automation of parcels/packages, reducing delivery time and allowing mailers to track and even recall/reroute packages with greater ease. Instead of relying on human scanning – as the current barcode system does – RFID would use electronic readers to capture data on tags and transmit it directly to a computer system. The RFID system would require significant outlay for a new infrastructure as well as the cost of the tags themselves. The investment ultimately could result in lower costs and improved mail delivery times, making the Postal Service the premier delivery service. This blog is hosted by the Office of Audit, Delivery Directorate.
  • on Mar 28th, 2011 in Delivery & Collection | 57 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"]L[/dropcap]ast Thursday the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued its advisory opinion on the U. S. Postal Service’s proposal to switch to five-day delivery. Following a year-long analysis, the PRC voiced concerns with the request, questioning the potential savings, the impact on service, and the effect on communities, especially in rural areas. However, the Commission was unable to reach a consensus and did not issue an opinion to endorse or reject the proposal to cut Saturday delivery. The Postal Service responded with a statement from the Postmaster General, reiterating that five-day delivery is a core element of the Postal Service’s strategy for the future. The statement also said the Postal Service will continue to press its case before Congress, which has the authority to change delivery requirements. Do you think the Postal Service has a case for five-day delivery? Although 5-day delivery is a key element of the Postal Service's future plans, there are many other options under consideration at this point in time. In your mind, what do you think are the most important options? Give your comments below. Note: The U.S. Governement Accountability office just released its own report on 5-day delivery. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

     

     

     

  • on Feb 7th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 3 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] I [/dropcap]n recent years, a growing number of people have chosen to avoid crowded shopping malls by doing their holiday shopping online. To a certain extent, online shopping reduces their carbon footprint by keeping these individuals from driving to and from the store. However, their packages still have to be delivered. What if postal customers could choose to have carbon neutral delivery for an extra fee? In 2009, Itella, Finland’s postal service, introduced a program where customers could pay extra for carbon neutral delivery, adding the “Itella Green” marking to letters for less than a penny or parcels for around five cents. Itella achieved carbon neutrality through a combination of energy efficient delivery vehicles by funding reputable, environmentally-friendly projects. While Itella’s plans include increasing carbon efficiency in all three phases of the package delivery process: sorting, transportation, and delivery, the greatest carbon efficiency gains currently come from their shift to electric or fuel efficient delivery vehicles. On February 1 Itella made the cost of carbon neutrality a standard part of all postage, making it the first country to offer completely carbon neutral delivery. That way, when a customer uses Itella to send a letter, package, or direct mail, they know they are getting zero net emissions. Through their efforts, Itella has made carbon neutral delivery, a key element in developing a “green” reputation and an advantage in competitive areas like package delivery. Is offering carbon neutral delivery as a separate, specialized service that customers can purchase an idea worth exploring for the Postal Service? The Postal Service is already in the process of converting its delivery fleet to cleaner electric vehicles, making carbon neutrality easier to achieve in the coming years. Moreover, does it make sense to give consumers a choice in terms of the environmental friendliness of their mail delivery? Sources: Hellmail Itella This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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