Friday, February 26, 2010

USPS Is Accelerating Flats Sequencing Installations

The U.S. Postal Service is installing Flats Sequencing System machines at a rapid pace but is still overhauling the schedule for future installations.

Only 11 of the massive machines are up and running, which is about eight months behind the early-2009 schedule for the system that is supposed to revolutionize the handling of catalogs, magazines, and other flat mail. But another 39 installations will be complete by the end of July, postal officials said at last week’s MTAC (Mailers Technical Advisory Committee) meeting.

That would put the program less than six months behind the original schedule. But what happens after July isn’t clear.

The USPS is committed to buying another 50 Phase I FSS machines from Northrop Grumman, but its installation schedule for those machines has been “under development” since August, when postal officials announced a reworking of the Phase I plan in response to declining flats volumes.

One participant in a mailing-industry tour of the Northrop Grumman manufacturing facility last month described it as “all dressed up and no place to go,” waiting on the USPS to decide on a smaller version of the football field-sized machines that is more suited to lower volumes.

Flat mail is down 26% in the past four years, noted a USPS presentation to MTAC. FSS machines are operating in four locations – Dulles (northern Virginia); Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, MO; and Phoenix. Installations are nearly complete in New Jersey NDC (Jersey City); Washington, DC; Mid-Island (Long Island, NY); Northwest Boston; Orlando; Van Nuys, CA; South Florida; Trenton, NJ; and Indianapolis.

Postal officials say that another seven locations will be operating by July 31 – Greensboro and Raleigh, NC; Fox Valley and South Suburban, IL; Los Angeles; San Jose; and Michigan Metroplex (Pontiac).

For more information on the FSS, please see:

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Flat volume is dropping, yet they are going to buy 50 more of these monsters! Billions spent on these things and they have not even achieved the required productivty, throughput and accpetance goals!

The FSS is so finicky about the flats it will accept that the USPS is announcing all sort of mailing requirements for flats.

THAT is what is driving flat volume away!

Anonymous said...

Go to 5 day delivery and stop buying these machines

Anonymous said...

Starting Today the Middlesex Essex Plant In MA Starting receiving trucks with the parts for The FSS finally. We will see how long it takes them to get up and running.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the whole program for 100 machines was around $1.2 billion. These monsters will probably be very maintenance heavy, (remember the APPs) so costs will probably keep expectations down. But hell, as long as you don't have to pay it medical or retirement benefits, WTF, full steam ahead.

Anonymous said...

These FSS will process mail but they serve a 2 fold purpose to eliminate or reduce operations because of their size! The bigger picture is once flat volume decrease because of expanding technology (e-readers, I-pad,etc.)more jobs will be lost. Can anyone say "standby"?

Unforgiven said...

The FSS is still under development and does not yet meet contracted minimum standards for throughput. There is also not a complete set of schematics yet available and there is not even a complete maintenance course yet developed due partially to the above facts. So they're going ahead and installing systems for which there will still be design changes coming, once Northrup Grumman is able to fix the throughput issue. However that said, if they can solve the problem with throughput, the FSS can definitely sort and sequence the mail. The real question comes down to cost and if the the FSS is really going to save the postal service any money at all. Sadly I think it's just going to be a tremendous short to medium term suckhole of money with little long term gain, unless the post office can recover volume, survive another 50 years, and keep the FSS up and running long enough to pay them off.

Anonymous said...

POSTAL LOGIC 101----IF IT IS STUPID! LETS DO IT!
IF WE CAN'T FIX IT ON REGULAR TIME WE WILL DO BETTER ON OVERTIME!
IF IT ISN'T BROKE DON'T WORRY WE WILL FIX IT UNTIL IT IS!!!!!!!
WE HAVE THE APPS MACHINE! WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT IT IS.IT IS THE GREATEST THING SINCE THE INVENTION OF ELECTRICITY WHEN IT IS RUNNING.
THEN WE HAVE THE FSS WONDER.WHAT ELSE CAN WE BUY?
WE HAVE PEOPLE GOING FROM CRAFT POSITIONS TO THE CUSTODIAL FIELD.AFTER THEY GET TRAINED IN JANITORIAL DUTIES THEY START TO THINK ABOUT MOVING UP AS A MECHANIC OR E.T. SO THEY 204-B AND TAKE TESTS AND GO TO OKLAHOMA TO THE POSTAL UNIVERSITY FOR TRAINING.THEY WOULD DO BETTER TO GO TO:MCDONALDS"UNIVERSITY OF HAMBURGERS". WHEN THEY COME BACK TO THE FACILITY AND GO OUT ON THE FLOOR-THEY ARE DUMBER THAN WHEN THEY LEFT!!!!!RESULTS?= SUCCESS!!!!!!!!SO WITH THE ELECTRONIC INDUSTRY TAKING THE BUSINESS AWAY SMARTER DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE!!!!!!BONUSES AND PAY FOR PERFORMANCE MUST INCREASE!!!!!!!1

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon from MA. How many fsm100's do you have and will they be impacted by the new machines? Also, who mans the FSS; mailhandlers or clerks? We are just egtting our first of 3, here in RI.

Anonymous said...

good news for postal workers that work in processing plants. the big monster will not come to our town. that means our afsm100 will keep postal workers employed without being excessed.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know what happens to the mail and the delivery when these monsters break down. Do we not deliver that day or do we get the mail late that day, unsorted and rely on the way we have always done it (sort it ourselves) and get out on our overburdened long routes 2 hours later. Also how are we going to carry a 4th bundle. In our office we have 3rd bundles about 4 days a week which will become 4th bundles meaning they will have to be coalated (like the old days) with sorted flats, The weekly fliers are a mess so it will be interesting to see how this all pans out. I see a mess just like the DPS. We bring back all the missorts, missents everyday. I can only imagine the nightmare with all the flats the regulars will bring and the T6's and TE's will deliver not knowing that they are on hold, forwarded or vacant because they will all be in there. The day after a regulars day off is always clean up day (embarassing) because they also use te's and carriers from other towns that don't have a clue to where they are going. It's a nightmare and a shame what Potter has done to this great service.

Anonymous said...

FSS site 60 truckloads for one machine. Five months for machine 1 to go online. FSS City Letter Carrier to avoid carrying a fourth bundle on FSS park and loop delivery cased residual mail is collated with the FSS flats to avoid a fourth bundle. On mounted or centralized delivery the letter carrier is required to carry the fourth bundle. If the machine breaks down you case the mail. Letter size mail min flats is very common. If your holdout are not up to date you will bring the flats back. Have fun.