COVID Card 105 features a Transorma — one of the first large-scale, multi-position mail sorting machines in the world (first used in the Netherlands in 1927). A Transorma was installed in a post office in Maryland in 1957, where it processed up to 15,000 pieces of mail per hour.
Since then, sorting machine technology has improved vastly. Some machines sort up to 55,000 pieces of mail per day. In addition to letter sorting machines, the USPS uses machines that sort parcels, edge stack, cull, facer cancel, and more. All of these machines help the USPS process and deliver 182 million pieces of mail per day. (fun fact: that’s more registered voters than there are in the US)
It’s the funniest thing, you know. The Postmaster General says that he needs to cut costs, so he’s eliminating overtime, removing and locking mailboxes, and taking other steps that he says might temporarily slow the mail. He also says that the USPS, which delivers over 1 billion holiday greeting cards each year, can’t handle mail-in ballots for 153 million Americans (assuming all registered voters in the US would vote — and what’s more, that they would all vote by mail). With me so far? Another step he’s taking is to shut down or remove 15% of mail sorting machines.
Let’s say you run a retail business and you need to cut costs. You have a machine — an unsalaried, unpaid machine — that processes (let’s say puts price tags on) 35,000 items per hour. Without the machine, you have to pay someone to price those 35,000 items. Do you think one person could do that in an hour? Two? Three?
No matter your political views, I’d like to think that you understand that no one who truly wants a business to survive removes an almost free (there are electricity usage and machine maintenance costs, of course) tool that does the work of dozens of people in the name of cost-cutting.
Removing sorting machines takes the USPS back to the early 1950s in terms of one aspect of mail processing. Progress? Too bad Postmaster General DeJoy doesn’t own stock in the company that makes the machines (he does hold stock in XPO Logistics, a company that DeJoy sold his own business, New Breed Logistics, to and which has contracts with the Postal Service).