The U.S. Postal Service has deployed an updated version of the Automated Barcode Evaluator (ABE) at several field acceptance units. Version 1.20 is a computerized diagnostic tool that evaluates the quality on mailings before entry in the mailstream. Basically, ABE captures each bar-code image and compares it to various specifications representing acceptable standards. "ABE will tell a mailer seeking a bar-code discount if that particular mailing meets USPS requirements," said Michael L. Stephens, information sciences specialist at the USPS engineering facility in Merrifield, VA. "With ABE in place, the USPS will get higher quality bar codes on mailings, and customers will benefit through additional discounts and faster service." ABE does not have the ability to check content such as address accuracy -- its primary focus is on gauging acceptable bar-code print quality. USPS will continue testing the equipment at 15 sites for the next few weeks. If no significant problems occur, it will announce the start of a 90-day "ramp-up" period beginning next month and implementation in May.
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