[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] E [/dropcap]very day, thousands of containers holding letters and large envelopes are flown across the country to meet Postal Service standards. As you might expect, in almost every case, it costs more to fly mail than to ship it on a truck or by train. Because of this, from a cost standpoint, it’s important that each mail container is filled to capacity.

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While conducting prior audits on other issues, we observed that large mail processing facilities were running multiple processing machines – even with declining mail volume. Running one machine full time to process mail results in full mail trays and tubs, while running multiple machines to process the same amount of mail results in multiple partially-filled trays and tubs. Running multiple machines may be efficient for processing facilities, but it results in transportation inefficiencies and increases costs. When you consider that it costs the Postal Service about a $1 per pound to fly mail, the cost of flying partially loaded mail trays and tubs could be substantial.

In our current audit, we plan to look at information related to the density of First Class Mail on air transportation and assess the related costs, and we’d like your views.

What do you think? How can the Postal Service make sure only full containers fly? One option might be to identify mail needing air transportation and process it separately from other mail? Is that a good option or would you recommend other methods?

The Office of Audit Transportation team is hosting this topic.

Comments (3)

  • anon

    I haven't worked in the plant much, but isn't the point of running multiple machines to make TRANSPORTATION cut off times-- ie; the time that the container on the plane is leaving? If multiple machines aren't run, then the plane is leaving anyway with EMPTY containers...... right?

    Mar 30, 2011
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment and let me further explain that we do not intend that any containers be left on the ground because they are not full. We are trying to identify ways to ensure we maximize container capacity because the cost to fly mail is expensive when compared to ground transportation. We also agree with you that service is important and maintaining a high standard is paramount, however, the the Postal Service must still meet its financial obligations.

    Mar 09, 2011
  • anon

    Your premise that all air containers must always fly full is flawed. If every container is full, we will always leave some mail on the ground. That's detrimental to service. Controling costs is important, but service should be our priority.

    Mar 07, 2011

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