The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) published a notice in the August 23, 2010 Federal Register regarding proposed changes to mail preparation requirements for flat size mail destined to Flat Sequencing System (FSS) ZIP codes. These preparation changes would be optional for mailers, and would be made effective on January 2, 2011.

Why Optional?

The proposed changes are intended to result in more consistent bundle sizes, larger, more stable pallets, and to bypass steps in processing. The USPS plans to use this period of optional preparation to study the effects of the new preparations so as to refine the changes once the mandatory preparation requirements are made effective at an undetermined date in the future. The optional preparation changes are proposed for Standard Mail®, Periodicals, and Bound Printed Matter flats, and impact only the flats going to the ZIP codes where FSS equipment is deployed.

What is FSS?

The Flats Sequencing System is part of the USPS strategic plan to increase mail processing efficiency and reduce costs. These pieces of equipment sort flat size mail into delivery sequence, so that less time is spent by mail carriers manually sorting flat size mail into the sequence in which they deliver mail on their routes. FSS machines are quite large and very expensive, so they have been deployed only in certain areas of the country.

What are the changes?

The preparation changes deal mostly with bundle preparation (larger, more consistent size bundles) and pallet preparation (larger pallets directed to the FSS areas). These proposed changes were developed by the USPS in conjunction with the flats mailing industry. The changes allow for more efficient loading of mail onto the FSS equipment. These proposed changes should also result in improved efficiencies for mailers, as larger, more consistent bundle and pallet sizes are more efficient to produce. The new pallet preparation options are as follows:

1. A 5-digit FSS-scheme ZIP Code combination (including one or more 5-digit ZIP Codes);

2. FSS facility sort (all 5-digit FSS-scheme ZIP Code combinations processed within the same facility); or

3. A sectional center facility (SCF) with FSS capability, when combined on pallets with flat-size mailpieces not intended for FSS processing.

Bundles on these pallets must be of uniform height, with a minimum of 3 inches in height and a maximum of 6.5 inches in height. One overflow bundle of remaining pieces is allowed to be smaller in height than the other bundles on the pallets.

There are also revisions to the verbiage in the Optional Endorsement Line (OEL) used to identify the mail in the bundles, and on the pallet placards used to identify the mail on the pallets.

Questions or additional information

For more details, mailers should access the Federal Register notice from August 23, 2010, which includes contact information at the USPS for questions or additional information.

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