When the Los Angeles International Service Center was required to move — and to simultaneously consolidate functions that were normally handled at another location — USPS engineers were tasked with finding a way to make it so.
The former center was roughly 25,000 square feet and responsible for accepting incoming international mail from the airfield.
The new site, called the International Receipt Facility, is roughly the same size but had to handle not just the receipt of international mail but induction and sortation, radiation detection and all the international mail obligations that are required by multiple federal agencies.
The solution devised by the Material Handling and Systems Engineering Integration teams was a piece of mail processing equipment that takes multitasking to a whole new level.
Before, the center could only perform receipt and compliance check functions manually using old conveyor systems, tethered scanners and inclines to fill empty equipment.
Processing mail for identification and sorting was completed at another location.
The new machine completed all these tasks in one location, requiring far fewer employees and at nearly five times the productivity rate as the former setup.
Formerly, the facility might process 20 “aircans” — those cargo holders you see on airfields — a day, according to Sergio Luna, a receiving clerk at the facility.
Now, they can process that amount in two hours, he said. Once all the workers are brought up to speed learning the ins and outs of the new machine, Luna predicts a “100 percent” improvement in processing speed.
The new sorter allows for expedited mail receipt, offers the latest in federal international mail compliance and improves productivity and processing of all inbound international mail at the Los Angeles airport, said Prescott Bellaire, technology acquisition program manager.
Ergonomic tweaks based on employee feedback have been integrated into the design, as well.
Seyed Zahraei, a USPS project management specialist, led the effort.
In terms of technology, “it’s Flintstones versus Jetsons,” Bellaire said.