UPS deploys new mail-processing technology

UPS Mail Innovations, the business-mail service of Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc., has deployed a new system to reduce the manual handling of flat business mail.

The homegrown system, called the Automated Processing System (APS), streamlines the processing of flats -- including annual reports, brochures and calendars weighing one pound or less -- by handling the weighing, sorting, application of postage and verification of addresses, according to UPS spokeswoman Peggy Gardner.

In addition, the system accepts a variety of materials, including paper, plastic and cardboard, and can process different-size pieces of mail, UPS said. APS, which integrates with the U.S. Postal Service system, is deployed in nearly all of the company's 11 mail processing centers throughout the U.S.

"There is a piece of equipment that measures the length, height and thickness of a piece of mail while the optical character reader scans in the address on the piece," Gardner said. "Then the APS captures an image of the item, saves it into a file, and the piece of mail is weighed. ... All that data is put into a database and run through a software program, which puts business rules in place about how to best route a piece of mail as well as apply the proper postage."

After an address is verified, mail pieces are separated, sorted by location and loaded into tubs that are automatically replaced as soon as they are filled, she said.

APS allows companies to customize the process down to the smallest detail, including instructions for what to do with a piece of mail that has an invalid address, Gardner added.

Because the system is now automated, customers can expect improved service, higher reliability and an increased acceptance rate by the Postal Service, she said.

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