Live from the National Postal Forum: USPS to modernize flats sorters

Boston–The U.S. Postal Service signed a contract on Sept. 20 with manufacturer Lockheed Martin for the deployment of a new high-speed flats mail processor. The new machines can handle more than twice the volume that the USPS’s existing small parcel processors and bundle sorters can, said Thomas Day, vice president of engineering for the Postal Service, during a session at the National Postal Forum here.

“We think it will be a great enhancement to the system for bundles of flats,” Day said, noting that the processor designed for the existing flats sorter, the AFSM 100, can read addresses and barcodes as well as sort flats. Most catalogs are classified as flats.

As for the existing flat sorters, deployment of the 534 AFSM 100 machines was completed last April. Deployment of 359 new UFSM 1,000 machines, designed to handle larger flats, is scheduled to continue through the end of the year. And last year, the USPS added a turbo module for the existing flat sorters that has increased throughput by 15%.

The USPS is also reacting to a problem catalogers have had with its flats sorters. “We’ve heard from a number of customers that the machines are tearing their covers off,” Day said. “So we’re looking for funding approval for a feeder enhancement that greatly diminishes the problem.”

Day said that the USPS had its worst problems with catalog covers in April. “But through some enhancements in operational procedure, we’ve greatly diminished the problem,” he added.

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