USPS speeds up plans to get 138 package-sorting machines running ahead of holiday season

The Postal Service, after digging out from mail and package delays from last year’s peak holiday season, is speeding up some of its infrastructure investments to avoid a similar fate this year.

USPS has “accelerated” its investment and procurement of 138 package-sorting machines, and expects to have them running ahead of its 2021 peak holiday season, the agency announced Tuesday.

The agency previewed its investment of this equipment in its 10-year plan unveiled last month. The purchase of package-sorting equipment is only part of $40 billion in capital investments USPS plans to make over the next decade.

In addition to faster package processing, USPS is also leasing 45 additional package annexes, located near existing processing facilities, to store an “overflow” of packages.

USPS is also revisiting a 2015 consolidation plan to remove or relocate mail-sorting machines from 18 mail-processing facilities. The agency said it will not lay off employees as it reshuffles mail-sorting machines across its network.

The agency said employee impacts resulting from these operational changes, however, “will be handled in accordance with our negotiated contract provisions.”

“Due to the decline in mail volume, we will relocate or remove unnecessary letter and flat sorting equipment as appropriate to make space for much needed package processing,” USPS said in a press release Tuesday.

USPS is also revisiting a 2015 consolidation plan to remove or relocate mail-sorting machines from 18 mail-processing facilities. The agency says it will not lay off employees as it reshuffles mail-sorting machines across its network. (Source: USPS)

The agency added that its plans to move, decommission and repurpose mail-processing equipment are part of a decades-long strategy that “allows for more efficient, timely delivery of mail and packages.”

The agency put plans to consolidate more processing facilities on hold after pressure from Congress. USPS, however, did consolidate 141 facilities between 2012 and 2013, according to its inspector general.

While package volume in March was 28% higher than last year, overall mail volume fell by 23% over the past 10 years and has further declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declines are most noticeable in first-class mail, which has dropped 41% over the past decade, and is one of the Postal Service’s biggest drivers of revenue.

The agency is able to move forward with moving or decommissioning mail-sorting equipment after a federal judge, earlier this month, clarified the scope of his preliminary injunction that blocked these and other operational changes.

The capital investment in the agency’s package sortation business comes as the agency reported significant mail and package delays during last year’s peak holiday season. The delays drew scrutiny from USPS customers and Congress, and led to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issuing a public apology.

DeJoy said Tuesday that the Postal Service’s future depends on its ability to adapt to the evolving demands of our customers.

“These initiatives and investments give our employees the infrastructure and technology they need to serve today’s e-Commerce marketplace reliably and efficiently. This optimization will lead to more efficient and reliable performance in our plants, which in turn will enhance our ability to predictably and reliably deliver mail to the more than 161 million addresses we serve each day,” DeJoy said.

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