Postal Updates

Flats Sequencing System continues to be a Postal Service headache

May 3, 2021, 6 PM
Flats Sequencing System. U.S. Postal Service photograph.

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

A piece of machinery that the United States Postal Service thought would be the answer to the high costs of handling large envelopes — the Flats Sequencing System— is continuing to be a big headache for the agency.

Dead Tree Edition, a blog that reports on postal and printing issues, has cited a recent filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission that disclosed in the past two years the average number of mailpieces processed per machine hour has dropped by 8 percent and the number of mailpieces that were jammed by the machines rose by 8 percent.

Dead Tree Edition states this means that nearly half of the flats that are supposed to be processed by the large flats sequencing machines “end up” being processed on other machines or sorted manually.

The blog said Postal Service officials remain resistant to efforts to either abandon the machines or “rethink” them.

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A year ago, Dead Tree Edition said the Postal Service indicated it was still learning how to use the machines, claiming its technology “is in its relative infancy.”

“But clearly this paper is failing to thrive,” the blog concluded.

It suggested that higher prices for publishers and other large mailers of flat-sized mailpieces could result from the machines’ problems.