The USPS has been working to modernize its delivery network as part of the Postal Service’s Delivering for America Plan. A significant component of this transformation is the repurposing of Processing & Distribution Centers (P&DCs) into new Sorting & Delivery Centers (S&DCs).
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced the Delivering for America plan in March 2021. This is the USPS’s comprehensive ten-year plan to achieve financial sustainability and service excellence. USPS will reinvest on a vast scale to establish a network of new facilities supporting redesigned processing, transportation, and delivery networks.
In a simplified model of the current delivery network, contract trucks leave the P&DCs early each morning carrying regional mail volumes. The trucks travel within a specific zone going from one post office to the next to distribute bulk mail. Letter carriers further sort and prepare the mail for delivery routes.
In the new system, the S&DC becomes a “hub,” and the post offices become “spoke facilities.” Letter carriers will transition from the back of post offices to larger S&DC facilities.
The USPS traces its roots to 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The Postal Service Act of 1792 created the national Post Office Department.
Although the USPS advanced over time, new internet services and industrial enterprises were able to leapfrog the legacy systems of the USPS in technological advancements.
Modern logistics and industrial facilities across industries are designed to enhance efficiency, productivity and employee wellness. Many postal processing facilities are decades old with multi-floor operations, limiting the opportunity to make drastic workplace improvements or operational and floor plan layout changes. S&DCs are expected to modernize the USPS network.
Several studies indicate that a change in delivery operations may improve the USPS. Although opinions are mixed if S&DCs will bring better results, the initiative intends to drive many benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Reduce transportation and mail handling costs by establishing a modern network of much larger facilities with fewer, fuller trips between them via the spoke-hub transport paradigm
- Increase responsiveness to customers by decoupling operational tasks and retail activities; post office clerks do retail work, help load and unload trucks, and provide other forms of delivery support labor.
- Expand post office services by reallocating sorting space for retail products and amenities
- Improve working environments for hundreds of thousands of postal employees with modern facilities for sorting and expanded workspaces at the post offices
- Reduce stress, strengthen performance, and raise the morale of postal workers
- Standardize operational management for better mail distribution
- Augment the percentage of the next-generation electric delivery vehicles. as another key component of the S&DC
The first S&DC became operational in Athens, Georgia, in November 2022; approximately 15 more centers are underway. Interested in learning more, join our mailing list for regular updates on USPS’s Delivering for America plan.