Postal: Lessons Learned from a Visit to the Nation’s Largest Post Office
Last Wednesday, from the time I hopped a train from our Philadelphia headquarters to Manhattan until my return trip home at the end of the day, I had something of a revelation as to how the U.S. Postal Service does its job. I took part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Morgan Processing & Distribution Center in midtown Manhattan, sponsored by the Direct Marketing Club of New York.
Along with thirty-some people (mostly bulk mailers), my eyes were pried wide open on what it takes to process our mail on a daily basis, not to mention, the complex process involved in bulk-mailed catalogs. I feel confident that when I mail something, it’s going to go to where it’s intended to go.
If I was going to learn the mail delivery process, there was no better place for me to be than at the Morgan plant — the largest postal facility in the country and one of the largest in the world. Completed in 1933, the facility was named after Edward Morgan, the postmaster of New York from 1907 to 1917. Today, the facility processes more than 12.5 million pieces of mail a day, including more than 3.4 million outgoing first-handled pieces and nearly 2.6 million first-handled incoming pieces. To make this all possible, this facility alone employs approximately 4,300 workers.
As with anywhere else, technology has played a major role in the evolution of the Morgan facility. Historically, thousands of workers lugged heavy sacks of mail to be manually sorted according to delivery zone. Today, nearly 100 pieces of equipment are in constant use to help expedite the process of sorting the mail and preparing it for delivery. Approximately six miles of fixed mechanized tray lines help to automate this process.
Before we went on a walking tour of the facility, Elaine Robinson, a mail design analyst who’s been with the USPS for more than 20 years, gave a presentation about many of the Postal Service’s strict guidelines. And as she pointed out, following the strict regulations affecting envelope dimensions, address orientations, barcode clearances and readability, and print contrasts to name a few, is essential to creating a successful mail drop.