Sunday, November 21, 2010

USPS Speeds Up FSS Start-Ups

After starting up just seven Flats Sequencing System machines in the past six months, the U.S. Postal Service says it will have another 10 handling live mail by the end of this month.

USPS has greatly accelerated the pace of machine installations now that it has nailed down where the 100 machines in FSS Phase I will go and what ZIP codes they will handle. Besides the 18 that were already processing mail and the 10 being added this month, another 46 of the football field-sized monsters have been installed, according to a revised deployment schedule USPS released recently.

The Postal Service says it is still on pace to have all 100 machines up and running by June of next year. The latest plan is for those machines to sort catalogs, magazines, and other flat mail for 2,328 ZIP codes in 47 locations.

As noted in Is The FSS A Boondoggle?, the jury is still out on whether the $1.4 billion Phase I investment will be worthwhile and whether FSS will truly revolutionize the handling of flats mail. But the machines do seem to be reducing letter carriers’ in-office time, resulting in fewer carriers needed for areas served by FSS. And some of the machines have had idle days for lack of flat mail to process.

One aspect of FSS not likely to succeed is a recently implemented program that lets mailers package flat mail the way they will eventually be required to do for FSS zones. Following the optional preparation standards would result in more copies per bundle and in pallets configured optimally for the FSS machines, enabling USPS to test its theories about the best way to create bundles and pallets of mail for the machines.

But using the optional standards means loss of carrier-route discounts, which would be a significant penalty for most mailers. So it’s hard to see why they would go through the hassle and cost to participate in the experiment.

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dryMAILman said...

"But the machines do seem to be reducing letter carriers’ in-office time..."

Five important points:

1. The sculch tray would totally eliminate in-office time. All mail, not just flats, would be sorted in the street. Enterprise-wide efficiency can not be reliably measured using in-office time reductions alone.

2. I am not yet burdened with Postal FSS. This does not mean that I don't have private FSS. I am going to 'waste' an hour in the office tomorrow pretending ECRLOT flat mail isn't already walk-sequenced. The new PMG is also pretending this mail does not exist. Postal FSS would INCREASE in-office time for me tomorrow.

2(a). No one has bothered to measure how often the above happens.

3. The above mail is very droopy. Northrop Grumman isn't able to walk-sequence droopy mail. Postal FSS machines fail this stress test.

4. Northrop Grumman is killing flats volume.

4. Upper level management will not demonstrate how to carry postal FSS under stressful conditions. Alarm bells should be going off.

5. An arbitrator would consider the difficulty of carrying postal FSS when adjusting wages in the next contract.

5. Knee replacements cost about $70,000 per carrier. I'm going to need two new knees in a few years if I'm forced to carry postal FSS.

6. The OIG needs to redo the FSS audits. Also, their fantastically transparent audit forums don't always work. Any fool (even me) used to be able to make public suggestions.

7. NATO's missile defense shield for Europe is going to cost less than phase 1 FSS.

6. We at the USPS can't always count or tell the truth, and this dysfunctionality starts with The Board of Governors.

Thank you Mr. Tree!

Anonymous said...

USPS is ALWAYS a minimum 10 years behind private sector. So the nations largest fleet has no GPS/live route tracking/internet capabilities. They still rely on short wave to communicate with drivers. Their current plan to do away completely with vehicle operators will miss out on the largest savings since contract employee also will require health insurance (10K/year per driver). Now they wish to automate the last mile process of mail delivery. Spending Billions on unproven machinery for certain losses return points out exactly what is wrong with government. You allow the inmates to run the prison & people forget why they are locked up. The USPS is headed by a laborer (Donahoe) after being headed by a laborer (Potter). A month after OIG notified congress that USPS financial problems where primary from worthless management, the USPS will push proven failed Reagan-era anti-union policies. Yes. You can send all the work to China & do away with union jobs. So who can afford to buy those TVs now? Just like you can try to do away with the unions by phasing out postal jobs via technology, even if it at a loss. Not smart business & very shortsighted but the USPS will continue to burn the house down to kill a roach.
Congress in the end will interject it part. They will be faced with turning over USPS jobs to illegal aliens to keep cost down or start paying for the only federal agency service that until GOP policies where enacted, was self sufficient.
With a Dem President/Senate gridlocked with GOP house, nothing will happen. House will allow some cash to go to USPS to continue operations. Business as usual. GOP won't hurt USPS since the majority of losses originate from GOP rural red zones. USPS workforce is unionized so President Obama & Dems will come forward & protect jobs. It would have happened earlier but Bush W left out the back door with the house on fire.

Anonymous said...

and street time and injuries go no savings just a loss of monet and service

Anonymous said...

I am a running City Carrier with 28 years. Inhave rec'd every award for productivity the USPS has (twice).
No managerial person commenting to me can carry my water in productivity or education level.
The FSS is limited, both in flat format and quantity. We in Blue Valley were first online. Martinez never properly aligned routes nor coordinated with the carriers to get routes done in 8 hours.
Mail processing puts walk sequenced coverages thru the machines for their (CYA) count, yet most are spit out for carriers to case after the sequenced mail is turned into an abortion.
FSS is only productive if the flats are uniform.
The USPS push to put sequence saturation mail on sale, puts carriers mounted or walking with 3-8 coverages a day. Mounted carrier routes can barely see their steering wheels, and are a hazard to driving (Speaking as a former state policeman)and carriers with numerous walking coverages are just fumbling their way thru the day.
The Union is neglect in their job by premitting this monsterous miscarriage of working conditions.

Anonymous said...

How about how much mailhandler OT has increased with the FSS? And in Northern VA flat volume has not decreased much if any. We don't even process first class on the FSS because of reliablity problems. FSS isn't really all its cracked up to be.

brett said...

FSS is ridiculous at this point. Mail volume is down, so one day you get 5 trays of FSS, then the next you get less than a tray. The trays are very slippery, and is very hard to set up in your LLV. Flats are seen backwards, upside down, and on occasion ripped apart. And at this point at least in Fort Lauderdale they now have added certain circulars to the mix, which would be good, but management refuses to give you additional time to deliver. Finally at least in Fort Lauderdale management also refuses to give you count for either your DPS, and FSS. They feel that it takes no more time to deliver. This is a brief point of view from someone who has to deal with this new system.

Anonymous said...

The real title of the article should be "USPS Speeds up FSS flare ups"

The machines are a JOKE, billions wasted on a totally unreliable machine that had virtually no testing done before they were purchased, only were the problems found out after Billions were spent.

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