May 4 2010 01:00 PM

Is Your Postal Distribution Data Up-to-Date?
Have you ever tried to go on a road trip using an old road map or outdated GPS system? Frustrating, isn't it? You probably had to re-route a few times and likely did not arrive at your destination when you planned to. Well, that is exactly what happens to your mail if you don't keep your postal distribution data up-to-date.

Postal Distribution Data Defined
There are two basic types of postal distribution data: one type directs where containers and handling units of mail should go, and the other type directs where shipments of these containers and handling units should be transported. The USPS Labeling Lists are essentially the "maps" that indicate where mail sacks, trays, pallets and other mail containers are destined. These destinations are shown in the first line of the printed sack tags, tray tags, and pallet placards. The USPS Drop Ship Database is the "map" that indicates the postal facilities to which the various handling units and containers are transported or drop shipped. These destinations are shown on the 8125 drop ship clearance documents. In both cases, the data is specified by ranges of ZIP code prefixes.

Adapting to Change
The USPS makes frequent changes to the Labeling List and Drop Ship Database data. The changes reflect modifications in the USPS processing and transportation network, which are often driven by changes in the population centers, seasonality, mail volumes, and in extreme cases weather or natural disasters. In the case of the Drop Ship Database, these changes can occur on a daily basis, such as when the USPS re-directs drop shipments from one facility to another due to processing equipment outages, local weather conditions, or other issues that necessitate mail processing to be moved to an alternate location. No one wants to see their mail delayed, so it is very critical that you keep up-to-date with the frequent changes to the postal distribution data.

Updating Software
As it stands right now, all presort software applications use the USPS Labeling List data, and most of them use the Drop Ship data, as well. However, since most presorts are run days, weeks and even months in advance of the actual mail date, that data can be very old and out-of-date by the time the mail is ready to drop. This leaves your handling unit and container labels routing your mail to, quite possibly, the wrong facilities, not to mention the havoc it can wreak with your 8125s.

Using post-presort software to generate these documents allows you to insure that any updates are included right before you mail. Robust post-presort software should provide quick, user-friendly means of updating this data, preferably in an automated fashion so that you don't have to remember to check for updates on a daily basis and spend time doing numerous manual downloads.

Automatic Postal Data Update System
Window Book offers a Scheduler utility, which enables users to schedule these postal distribution data updates to automatically download on a predictable schedule (as frequently as daily). It also offers users an "on-demand" option that provides for updates even between normally scheduled updates. This utility works with both our DAT-MAIL and Postal Package Partner (PPP) software. And, if you prefer the old-fashioned method of manually checking for and downloading updates, we allow you to do that too. However, we strongly encourage mailers to use our Automatic Postal Data Update System, so you can just "set it and forget it!"

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