*USPS Purchases Sortation Devices

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The U.S. Postal Service, Washington, D C, said yesterday it purchased a series of sortation devices equipped with smart technology that is designed to enhance the processing of barcoded parcels, which the agency believes will ultimately improve package delivery efficiency for Internet merchants.


The devices -- called Singular Scan Induction Units -- align, measure and sort barcoded parcels with dimensions of up to 21 inches on each side without having to use postal employees. When using labor to process these packages, four employees must manually face -- or position -- parcels scanned by barcode readers. Currently, postal officials estimate that 97 percent of parcels have barcodes.


Under the new system, parcels first enter the system and are lined up single file and spaced evenly apart. Then, they pass through the SSIU's Omni Scan Tunnel, where a scanner reads all six sides of the parcel to identify the barcode. Next, packages enter a dimensioning unit to measure all six sides of the package. Here, data from these scans help the USPS determine transportation requirements and other postal resources needed to complete delivery to the customer. Finally, the SSUI transfers the parcel and barcode data to a parcel sorting machine for automated sorting.


Two machines will be installed in each of the USPS' 21 Bulk Mail Centers. These mail processing centers distribute Standard-A Mail and Parcel Post Mail in piece and bulk form. Each facility processes mail from a specific geographic area and is linked to other postal facilities through a transportaion network.


While the USPS awarded Lockheed Federal Systems Inc. a $73.4 million contract for the devices, the agency said that labor savings are expected to exceed $24 million annually once fully implemented into the network by 2003.


The USPS said this system is part of the agency's Information Platform Program, which is designed to leverage technology used to process, transport, and deliver the mail into an information-rich database for use by both postal management and its customers.
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