Automated Postal Machine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury, MA

To cut costs and improve customerservice, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is turning to technology andautomation. The proportions of this immense task become clear when consideringjust the problem of handling irregular parcels and pieces (IPPs). Since a postalworker can sort at most 200 of these packages every hour by hand, the USPS hasbegun implementing optical character readers (OCRs); however, these can only readabout 40 percent of all hand-written addresses. In addition, the public's accessto the post office is severely limited by the fact that packages can be mailedonly during post office hours, and the process itself generally entails wastingconsiderable time just waiting in line.

To improve this situation, we haveproposed an Automated Postal Machine (APM) modeled along the line of theautomated teller machines. Accessible at any hour, the APM can handle the mailingof any standard-size package, paid for by a credit card account. In addition tomaking the post office more convenient, the APM becomes a means for increasingautomation by applying a bar code label to every package mailed. With theestablishment of a network of local databases, packages - which have individualidentification codes assigned to them - can be tracked on their route fromoriginating post office to destination. Either through the APM itself or bymodem, customers can access the database and check on the status of anypackage.

With the implementation of the APM system, the USPS regains itsplace at the forefront of the shipping industry.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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