The U.S. Postal Service announced yesterday that it is putting the Flats Sequencing System into five new locations but has still not revealed whether the machines work as intended.
As a result of declining volumes of catalogs, magazines, and other flat mail, the number of facilities getting the first 100 FSS machines is 47, up from 32 that were planned just a year ago.
San Diego will get two machines, while one each will go to Brooklyn, Cleveland, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. Palatine, IL will get an additional machine. Carol Stream, IL; Denver; Indianapolis; Middlesex-Essex, MA; Providence, RI; and Sacramento, CA will each lose a machine.
The revised schedule released yesterday shows the last of the 100 machines starting up in May 2011. Eleven machines are already sorting mail, and another 37 are in various phases of installation or start-up.
Eight months ago, USPS's Office of Inspector General said that "deploying FSS machines to additional sites is premature" until the system "demonstrates operational stability and achieves the minimum performance requirements under field test conditions". But postal officials decided that the results were good enough and providing enough cost savings to press on with more installations.
A third round of acceptance testing was scheduled for last fall, but USPS has not revealed the results. Various sources, however, report that the machines have still not met the standards specified in the contract with the manufacturer, Northrop Grumman.
For more information on the system that is intended to revolutionize the handling of flat mail, please see: