USPS Proposes Discounts for Flats

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Catalogers and direct mailers are preparing for passage of a proposed rule on specifications for barcode discounts.

According to the rule, which is listed in the Federal Register and awaiting public comment, mailers that send out a larger variety of flat mail -- or mail that exceeds the dimensions for letter-size mail -- will qualify for automation discounts. These discounts can take place because the current 340 flat-sorting machines can handle a greater variety of flats. For example, heavier magazines, newspapers, tabloids and many kinds of poly-wrapped materials will be available for discounts.

If approved, discounts will become effective Oct. 4.

In addition, the USPS announced that it will begin using 175 next-generation FSM 1000 machines beginning in November 1999. These new machines will allow for the automation discounts and will sort flats at twice the speed of the current flat sorters. The machines also will feature optical character readers and barcode readers

Mannesmann Dematic Rapistan, Grand Rapids, MI, was awarded the $106 million contract. The company has teamed up with Northrop Grumman on this project. Under terms of the agreement, these new machines will be fully deployed by the end of the year 2000.

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