Seeking Cost Effective Solutions for Flat Mail Preparation – UL02-01 USPS

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Seeking Cost Effective Solutions for Flat Mail Preparation – UL02-01 USPS

The purpose of this report is to provide an external and overall analysis over a process including a listing of critique of various possible solutions to the process problem.


United States Postal Service

Research Team:

John S. Usher, Jamie Little, G. Don Taylor

Universities Involved:

University of Louisville

Start Date:


End Date:



The purpose of this report is to provide an external, unbiased and ‘out of the box’ analysis of the flat mail preparation problem for the AFSM 100, and to provide a comprehensive listing of ideas related to procedural change opportunities, equipment modifications, and handling improvements to the flat mail preparation
The USPS has vastly improved sortation automation for letter and flat mail in the recent past to include technologies such as optical character recognition, bar code sortation and delivery point sequencing. Because letter mail has more uniform characteristics than flat mail, however, it is more easily prepared for induction to the sortation automation. The difficulty of preparing flat mail both within postal facilities and with postal customers is now causing a bottleneck at induction sites that limits the overall effectiveness of flat mail sortation automation. The purpose of this project is to audit existing problems and to provide cost effective solutions to this daunting problem. Companies utilizing automated material handling systems will benefit from the results of this project because of the generic implications of product presentation for induction to automation and because of the comprehensive multi-objective cost/benefit analysis.
The authors and the USPS have the same goal of making flats automation as effective as letter automation, thus passing on value to postal flat mail customers.