on Feb 22nd, 2010 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 18 comments
The Postal Service uses forklifts to move mail in its mail processing facilities. To improve efficiency and cut the costs associated with using this equipment, the U.S. Postal Service purchased a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-based tracking system called the Powered Industrial Vehicle Management System (PIVMS). Features of the system that help productivity include weight sensing, real-time location of vehicles, two-way messaging, driver authentication and maintenance scheduling. Features that increase safety include impact accountability, facilitating Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance as well as speed and impact sensing. The Postal Service has deployed the PIVMS in 114 facilities at a cost of more than $35 million to • Reduce work hours used to transport mail and equipment throughout the plant. • Reduce work hours needed to maintain the fleet of Powered Industrial Vehicles (PIVs). • Eliminate unauthorized use of PIVs. • Reduce injuries from unsafe operation of PIVs. • Reduce damage to mail and equipment from unsafe operation of PIVs. • Reduce the number of pieces of equipment needed to perform this work. Pushing the Envelope is interested in hearing from those experienced in using the PIVMS. Has the PIVMS lived up to its expectations? How do its benefits compare to its costs? What do you think about PIVMS?
This topic is hosted by the OIG's Network Processing directorate.


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I was a fork-lift operator (MEO) for many years before retiring recently. The PIVMS was a $35 mllion waste of money. The system was never used for the purpose it was designed for. Actually because of the many problems with the system it slowed down production. A total failure.

another waste of good money did not work and has since not been used and has never worked when youre spending someone else mney you dont care.......

In Buffalo,all these rfid systems are sitting idle on forklifts and jitneys.All are turned off with shattered screens and broken antenna's.They were used exclusively for safety checklist (OSHA).Never were they used for two way communication or locating a piece of equipment.Total waste of time and money.

This system is a total failure. We have waste4d more time and money on this system with no usefull return on the investment.


I work at a NDC. The system was a waste of time and money. It is a glorified osha check list. Drivers can just hit yes for all the answers and not even look the forklift over or think about the questions. They can even drive around forever with out even doing the check list with the check list light flashing. The sensors do not work. you can record a lift just by side sifting or tilting the forks. This is because the hfx sensor that was installed in the hydraulic motor wire to record lift.But it also works any time the hydraulic motor turns on. We no longer have any support for this system unless you want to pay by the phone call. This system should be discontinued so we can stop wasting money.

Well, $35 mil is not really a high price in consideration of the hardware and software architecture I'm assuming you got. I have a suggestion though, based on these first comments, and my limited internal knowledge of your specific PIV's application.....

RFID tags are certainly cheap, and can be integrated for any number of different applications. So you might try applying them to personnel or critical accountables? The barcode system is already utilized for inventory. So one method of identifying how useful
a piece of inventory, or personnel is to the enterprise, is to understand how dynamic it is. Or, if
it simply a static asset.

For example, since most electronic devices, like OBC's are software dependent, surely this RFID system is linked to the diagnostic system in the PIV's?
Maybe not?

Additionally, this assumes a manual override between these components exists (from what it sounds to me
based on Mr. Fann's comment?) Perhaps not? Anyhow, based on the $35 mil price tag between 114 facilities
it's not inconceivable? Software Defined RF Y/N?,
that is... (it means the software is scalable to different applications and acts as the controller)

Irregardless, the RF system is now in place, which likely was a great part of the original investment. Therefore, a useful application of this portion of the original campus system infrastructure, that can used for additional applications, should be considered.

Quite simply, the campus environment where these RF systems have been already installed, can likely serve the end user in other ways as well. While continuing to serve the highly important personnel/asset protection need, as originally intended.

Don't hesitate

PIVMS is a great tool that provides information that we were not able to easily get another way. That said, it still takes effort, attention, focus and someone assigned the responsibilities for it to make a difference. My guess is that because there is more work to do than time to get it done, that PIVMS often does not get much attention. Additionally, upper management is not putting an emphasis on using PIVMS for work hour reduction therefore it is not being used to its potential.

IMO, the cost of PIVMS is only a waste for the sites that do nothing with it. It is a great tool – use it. However, someone will need to be assigned responsibility to make it work.

I used to work in a P&DC about three years ago, and I didn't find this system to be saving any time and money for the postal service. The only good thing I noticed was the ease of assignment and accountability of these equipments to specific employees. Befor the system was utilized, it was hard to figure out who is assigned to an equipment or who is responsible for a building damage caused by one of these equipment. Speed control was another positive element of this system. If it was fully utilized with qualified individuals assigned full time, it would've been a great investment.

Another system for you to consider is the Surface Visibility System implemented a few years ago.

It's good to see the USPS taking the initiative and using technology to it's advantage. It's a shame that our government-run, taxpayer funded USPS has been forced to settle with nothing less than the best equipment and tools.

Now if you guys could just work on getting some better tracking for packages... sort of like FedEx or UPS... that would be amazing. Keep working on it. You'll get there.

The glorified Inplant support team at the Lexington Kentucky Plant sits in thier office without a clue of what the six tow motors and four fork lifts can or can not do in this plant. There is no clear and convincing mechanism to prove who actually is on each piece of equipment.

Thanks for the information, as the technology is increasing new and improved system will take place of old ones :)

Fascinating! Thank you.

Brad Hollister


Well, after a brief review of the consolidation plans, what a great time to execute a robotically integrated GIS footprint to each campus on the processing and mobile equipment.
Also, sell the legacy equipment to new "Village Branches Processing Network". You know, the ones without Postal Employees.

Total waste of time & money. I work in a P&DC where the damn system was installed; all the arguments about saving money & greater accountability are utterly specious. I'm a full-time operator with a gov't license for over 20 years; I'm also a PIV driver/instructor. The system's speed control works sporadically in our facility; go too fast, the horn blows uncontrollably until you come to a complete stop. The supervisor in charge of the system has used it to aggravate those drivers he doesn't like(by setting the threshhold too low in the name of "safety"); my tug was set to 4 mph while all the others were 5 mph. Our safety regs stipulate 5 mph, but it was 2 weeks before the buck-passing stopped & it was returned to normal.
Impact sensors are great on paper, but the reality is: the powers-that-be don't follow up on it. The night shift has a long history of damaging the equipment; if it supposedly takes a master badge to clear the PIVMS, there's no way any normal person could mistake a forklift blade bent up at a 45-degree angle after a serious impact. The employee just laughs about it & continues to drive haphazardly; were it up to me, I'd ban him for at least 6 months, but then the EEOs would start.
When I train the kids, I point out the problems with the system. In our plant, if the checklist isn't finished within 5 minutes, the system shuts down the forklift or tow motor, no matter where it is or what it's doing; then a master badge has to unlock it. Same thing happens if a 'no' response is entered into the checklist; the PIV immediately shuts down. If we need to take it to maintenance, that's another headache; most of our forks & tows SHOULD be taken down for maintenance, but we don't have enough to replace the broken ones, so they're kept running until they break down to the point where they won't move.
The worst part of this is when the system crashes(as it does about every 2 months or so since we got the damn thing). The drivers' proximity badges won't work; or some do while others are locked out of the system; or a certain forklift won't accept ANY badges & we wind up with a 7500 lb. paperweight. Due to a short-sighted "cost-saving measure", we lost half our tow motors & several forklifts from our plant. As a result, if a PIV goes down, we're screwed, & something's gonna back up. I advise our people to avoid using pallet mules for the larger skids of magazines, as those can easily weigh in excess of 4000 lbs.
The ONLY reason this system was implemented was to attempt to quantify what the drivers do as a precursor to cutting bid positions...either that, or somebody somewhere got some serious kickbacks, imho. USPS wastes more money on things that don't work(see also "SURFACE VISIBILITY", which is a whole other can of worms). IF THE SUPERVISORS WOULD DO THEIR JOBS, QUIT SCREWING WITH THE GOOD EMPLOYEES & WEED OUT THE USELESS, DEAD WOOD ON THE DAY SHIFT, maybe this system could work...but only if 90% of the upper managers were shown the door. There's a helluva lot of stupid people that high up the totem pole that have made entire careers by playing the EEO card!

As I indicated in my Feb 24 2010 post...

Dynamic - Moving & Productive

Static - Lacking movement in action or change. Undesirable.

PIVMS requires dedicated and Trained Network Administrators and Technicians.

Also a lot of spare parts UVAC 03, PCM boxes and sensors and cables.

I have worked at the San Diego P&DC as the only Tour 2 Mobile Powered Equipment (MOPE) mechanic and can testify that the PIVMS system can not be maintained on top of the Equipment Servicing (PM and CM) and Battery Service and changing. There are not enough hours in the day.

Many times the PIVMS CAUSES the MOPE to fail!
Counter Productive.

Shoddy contractor installation at our facility has caused about half of the PIVMS systems to malfunction and they are either SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE BYPASSED. I was told a team of 6 took a month to install the systems on our MOPE (42 equipment systems)

A team of 2 FULL TIME with a lot of spare parts MAY BE ABLE to maintain the PIVMS system.

The USPS CAN'T afford the TIME and MONEY needed for this effort.

A Downgrade back to Controlled key access to MOPE along with SUPERVISION and TRAINING would produce a more reliable and safe MOPE working environment.