The U.S. Postal Service has adopted a new preparation option that mailers said should reduce package handlings and increase efficiency for the agency and mailers.
The option, called co-packaging, lets mailers combine flat-size automation-rate pieces and flat-sized presorted-rate pieces of the same mail class within the same package. It will be available beginning March 31 and can be used with First-Class, Standard Mail or periodicals.
The new co-packaging rule is justified because the USPS usually processes automation-rate flats (ZIP+4 or delivery point barcoded) and presorted-rate flats (no barcode required) within the same operation, the agency said.
The USPS also said that its previous need for segregating barcoded and nonbarcoded pieces no longer exists because of advances such as optical character readers on the FSM 881 flat sorting machines, as well as the OCR/image lift capabilities on AFSM100s, another automated flat sorting machine. Moreover, beginning in 2002, the postal service plans to retrofit FSM 1000s with OCR capabilities.
As a result, continuing to require the separate preparation of automation-rate and presorted-rate pieces results in more packages, which reduces the average depth of sort. This causes additional work hours associated with sorting, opening and prepping flats for processing.
This rule is an outgrowth of two related preparation standards previously adopted by the USPS. The first, adopted Jan. 7, permitted mailers of periodicals, Standard and First-Class mail to co-sack or co-tray automation-rate mail with packages of presorted-rate mail. The second was adopted Sept. 1 and required mailers to begin co-traying First-Class mail flats and co-sacking Standard Mail flats within certain conditions.