Postal service upgrading address recognition systems

The U.S. Postal Service has hired Lockheed Martin Corp. to introduce address recognition capability earlier in the mail processing cycle to help speed mail delivery.

Under a $33 million contract, the company will upgrade remote computer reader machines at 350 U.S. postal centers to provide greater sort capability on 1,086 advanced facer canceller systems. The machines position envelopes so postage can be canceled and envelopes can be marked with an identification tag that enables further processing.

The improvements 'allow us to be more efficient and serve our customers better because we're consolidating high-speed mail sorting technology and eliminating several mail processing functions,' said Tom Day, vice president of engineering for the U.S. Postal Service.

The machine upgrades will be complete by June 2005, said Brian Tanton, vice president of material handling and identification solutions for Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies.

The upgrade uses enhanced optical character recognition technology developed by Lockheed Martin, of Bethesda, Md., to automatically separate local mail from items addressed to more distant destinations. As a result, outbound mail can be processed and dispatched before local mail is made ready for delivery.

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