on Sep 12th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 12 comments
Despite financial challenges resulting from declining mail volumes and current economic conditions, the Postal Service is continually driving efficiency by making better use of space, staffing, equipment, and transportation in processing mail. One key element of improving efficiency is consolidating mail processing operations, which is an ongoing effort. Since fiscal year 2009, the Postal Service has completed 47 consolidations and has an additional 107 consolidations in progress for proposed savings of approximately $255 million. How can further efficiencies be gained in mail processing? One idea may be to redesign workroom floor layouts to improve mail flow and eliminate redundancy or inefficient mail flow routes. This effort could also lead to work hour savings and efficiencies in staffing, staging, and dispatching the mail. Another idea may be to standardize mail processing equipment based on the volume of mail processed at each plant. Are these viable options for further improving mail processing efficiencies? What are some other ways the Postal Service can standardize mail processing operations to improve efficiency and improve the bottom line? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Network Processing team.


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Efficiencies can improve by applying two guidelines:

- improve asset utilization, and
- apply economies of scale

In practical terms this translates into improving the fill rates of bins (on an MPE), trays, containers, and trucks; and consolidating processing as much as possible.

To accomplish this the following should be considered:

- simplifying distribution schemes at originating plants (jackpoting mail) - this improves asset utilization
- consolidating distribution at hubs (e.g., NDCs) where separations (e.g., to SCF levels) can be done more cost effectively - because of increased economies of scale.

Other measures could be to be more 'opportunistic' in how the mail is run. For instance, if originating outgoing levels of mail are low at Plant A, one may opt to bypass plant A and consolidate volumes with a 'nearby' Plant B (while accounting, of course, on impact on service standards - but as more mix shifts toward Standard vs. FCM mail, plants have more leverage in coordinating the processing of their mail).

In short, efficiencies can be realized not only from the closure/consolidation of plants, but also from the redesign of the distribution network and the information-driven adaptation of operations with demand. On that note, we have written a concept paper on the 'Adaptable Post'. Please contact me if interested.

I'd like to see real Lean Six Sigma. Not POSTAL Lean Six Sigma. Not DRIVE.

Get rid of 65% of management......that would go a long way!!!!!!

the best idea will be to standardize mail processing equipment based on the volume of mail processed at each plant.


I don't know anything about how the post office works, but I have a comment and a suggestion. When deciding how those cuts in service are to be implemented remember there are a lot of little towns who have no carrier, and no mail delivery. Because of work hours and post office hours many people cannot go to the post office and fetch their mail until Saturday. Oh yeah, and why do those poor people need to pay to have a box when they have no choice? Either a late night is needed or these offices need to be open on Saturday. I just went on the web site and "bought" supplies for nothing. No business can have a product made and then give it away. People are using those boxes to store their winter sweaters. Everything should be for a fee.

redesign workroom floor layouts to improve mail flow and eliminate redundancy or inefficient mail flow routes - WILL BE A SUPERB PLAN

Having spent almost 38 years with the USPS (now retired) and having been involved in many facility design projects it always amazes me that every new project has to start from square one. How much different is mail processing operations from one facility to another ? I would think a basic layout and operation plan would apply to all offices with minor tweaking for volumes and new technologies. It seems as though McDonald's has done well with this concept, as well as Walmart, Home Depot etc. Repetitive facility & operations planning don't need to be reinvented every time a new facility is planned. Standardisation makes sense and successful business's use it all the time !!

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions related to Standardization topic.

OK, so I rx'd a piece of mail (Pre-Sorted Standard), Credit card offer. Unsealed, and re-handled by a physical body and re-mailed with official USPS "RECEIVED UNSEALED" affixed.
Fortunately the origin was domestic.....
Is this standardized mail processing?

I wish the USPS would listen to former employees. Your input could make a difference. I would like to see all USPS offices open all day long on weekdays and closed on weekends.

Why doesn't USPS adopt a standard for mail other than sizes such as mandatory envelopes and minimal paper thicknesses. I work at a processing facility and the biggest reason for machine jams and mail being chewed up is because there is no standard for first class or standard mail. It has to be machinable but no one seems to care about this, least of all the management who seem to only care about pay for performance. As far a Lean Six Sigma, the USPS can blow all the money they want on that useless waste of money program but it will not make a bit of difference unless there is a real standard for the mail.