With package delivery a growing part of the business, it’s no surprise the U.S. Postal Service has focused efforts on improving tracking and visibility for parcel services. PASS – the Passive Adaptive Scanning System used to scan packages and identify delivery routes – represents both the promise and pitfalls of major investments in this area.
The promise: This improved system simplifies scanning for parcel processing and allows clerks without any training in routing packages to sort them. Designed to scan packages at the delivery units, PASS also provides greater package visibility with these added scans. Also, PASS is an important tool in dynamic routing, a technique that arranges packages into delivery points in the most efficient and logical order for Sunday delivery.
Now the pitfall. As designed, PASS also enables clerks to identify shortpaid (insufficient) or unpaid postage on packages. But assessing and then collecting that unpaid or shortpaid postage is a manual process. Our audit of PASS found the Postal Service didn’t activate these revenue protection functions because management determined the related manual functions were too costly. Thus, the Postal Service won’t realize a return on investment on this part of the system.
The Postal Service has said it’s redirecting package revenue protection efforts into mail processing operations, rather than at delivery operations. Still, the decision not to use a key capability of PASS technology – one that was a justification for funding 1,031 of the PASS units – highlights the importance of careful planning for major investments in technology.
What kinds of new technologies might the Postal Service explore for mail processing and delivery operations to improve its position in the competitive package delivery market?