Sunday, February 18, 2018

Boondoggle: The FSS Goes from Bad to Worse

The USPS's recently released annual FSS Scorecard

The U.S. Postal Service’s money-losing Flats Sequencing System is becoming even less productive and more problematic, according to the USPS’s own statistics.

In the past two years, the average number of mail pieces processed per machine hour has decreased by 8%, and the proportion of “mail pieces at risk” (such as copies that are jammed in the machinery) has risen by 8%, according to information the USPS file recently. (See pages 2-4 of this PDF containing responses to Postal Regulatory Commission questions.)

Meanwhile, the proportion of FSS-zone flats that get fully sorted by the football-field-sized machines has declined nearly 10%. That means that nearly half of FSS flats end up being processed on an automated flat sorting machine (AFSM) and/or sorted manually.

The USPS spends 40% more to deliver flat mail that is addressed to FSS zones than to non-FSS zones (which use less automated methods), an expert’s study concluded last year. That indicates that the system wastes several hundred million dollars annually – not counting the initial $1.3 billion purchase price of the 100 machines.

But postal officials have resisted calls to scrap or rethink the FSS. A year ago, the USPS said it is still learning how to optimize the machines, stating that the technology “is in its relative infancy.” But, clearly, this baby is failing to thrive.

Instead of developing a Plan B for flat mail, postal officials and the PRC are pushing for Postal Service bailouts that in essence would force mailers of catalogs, magazines, and other flat mail to cover the FSS’s added costs. Dead Tree Edition has dubbed that the Stupidity Tax -- making mailers pay, in the form of higher postal rates, for the USPS's stupidity and stubbornness in moving forward with its FSS investment despite numerous red flags.

The PRC’s tentative plan, for example, would punish Periodicals and non-carrier-route Standard flats – because the USPS allegedly loses money on them – with five years of required rate hikes that could easily total more than 40%.

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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just stop. These machines were rolled out when flats undertook agiant increase. But the blue prints were approved and the deals had been made. While elephant from the beginning. Remove these machines and stop the embarrasement to the postal service.

Gary Ferraribeer said...

FSS was bad from the beginning and just kept getting worse. In Westchester District they are running Flats on fss that are already sequenced like Penny Saver and others in order to get their numbers up. When we did rural route counts we realized that the FSS nmbers were wrong, the routes had more than the allowable % to be mis-sequenced and DM in Westchester told management to ignore it???

Anonymous said...

Then someone in management would have to admit they made a mistake. That's crazy talk.

Jeff said...

The stupidity of postal mgmt. continues unabated. Of course, as usual there will be no accountability for the billions they annually waste.
Meanwhile, the harassment and blame will continue on the crafts that do the actual work of moving and delivering the mail.

Anonymous said...

The FSS machine here does mutilate many of the flats.
Mostly the front covers get torn. I had one the other day that had a large puncture hole in it. The magazine was thick and the force that caused this must have been tremendous. It looked like it was used as target practice and a bullet ripped through it.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the 1000 Machines

Anonymous said...

Saturday was when we got the SI swimsuit edition. I think a few customers still look forward to it. Got about ten for route, all but one was ripped or folded. What the internet hasn't done killing off magazines the FFS machines will finish.

Anonymous said...

It's to late...even if they scrapped the FSS machines, many offices could not go back to the old way. Simply we don't have the room for the extra case's needed. With the room now taken up by the exploding parcels, and the fact that many AO's have been combined, and most of the old equipment was discarded.

What I see is some days we get 1 or 2 trays of FSS, and others we get 7 or 8...those days it works well.

Another thing I note...pre FSS stuff like the AARP and AAA monthly newspaper type mailer would come in order..easy to sort up. Now they can not run those through FSS without destroying it so we get it, but it is no longer in order..the clerks have to break them down, this kills office time for the clerks, and the carriers. Why won't the publishers put this stuff back in order?? Is this punishment from the publishers to USPS,Basically they are saying,Fine..you won't drop FSS,then we are going to make sure you pay via increased work hours?

Anonymous said...

Standard mail sort machines are not much better. DPS comes upside down, with holes in it and ripped daily. We are getting more and more hand sort letters because the "machines were down" the night before. Takes a lot longer to sort through bad DPS trays along the side of busy roads than in the post office where you have the space and case to deal with it.

MJG MG said...

100% accuracy when flats were sorted by hand and 0% at risk damage with billion dollars saving rather than a football field machine that produces minimal sorting and 6% damages. White Elephant in all Caps should be a loss for all higher ups in WDC..

Anonymous said...

Plant management tries to use the fewest possible workers to run FSS. No groomer. One clerk instead of 2, Clerks working rejects and letting machine run in autopilot.

Nonna mess said...

When the swimsuit issue Of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is damaged… IT IS TIME TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION !!!!����

Bane of Sterling said...

Very interesting article about the ongoing FSS debacle. Any speculation WHY these numbers continue to decline Mr. Tree?

D. Eadward Tree said...

Good question, Bane of Sterling. Some of the comments on this article give you an idea of what a mess the whole FSS program is. Postal officials aren't providing any real insights. Note the comment above about the machines being used to run already-sequenced flats just to get the numbers up. In the early years of the FSS, there were widespread reports of that happening. It may have become less common now that postal officials presumably realize that the FSS will never come close to hitting its intended numbers. Also, the continuing decline in flats mail is probably hurting the productivity of the machines.