The Postal Service is making major changes in their transportation and delivery networks. Unfortunately, they are not being very forthcoming about what changes are being made – or when. In the end, it comes down to sleuthing through various Postal communications to – unions, the PRC, the media – to get a good overall picture. Or you can leave the legwork to exceptional organizations like NAPM (the National Association of Presort Mailers), from which most of this article is derived. These people know mail.
The current USPS facility and transportation network was originally designed to handle First-Class Mail. But over time, they added more locations for parcels, flats, and letters, resulting in a messy and inefficient system. It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – not ideal for today's diverse mail mix.
The USPS plans include increasing their share of the parcels business. They're introducing new concepts, products, and prices to support this growth. The Postmaster General brings private sector transportation and logistics know-how to the table. Their goal? Modernize and reduce costs for USPS' transportation function. Efficiency is the name of the game.
By bringing parcels and mail together in one transportation stream, the USPS aims to fill those trucks to the brim, reduce their number, and maximize efficiency. It's like playing Tetris with mail – optimizing space and reducing costs. At the most recent National Postal Forum the Postmaster General said that when he joined in 2020, USPS was running around with 750,000 truck trips per week, with an average utilization of less than 35%. In a recent update, the USPS announced the elimination of 206,000 underutilized truck trips.
Adjusted postal logistics brings benefits to USPS and mailers. Combining facility locations for parcels, flats, and letters means cost reductions and other benefits. It reduces the need to drop off different mail types at separate locations. In the future, it will all happen in one facility. Currently, the USPS has 354 processing facilities for all shapes and sizes, but in the redesigned network, they plan to slim it down to approximately 240 facilities.
Now, let's talk infrastructure. The USPS plans to modernize existing facilities in the new network. They'll be removing outdated equipment, upgrading electricity, and getting things better organized. Some postal facilities are in desperate need of a makeover, and this promises to bring them into the 21st century.
The USPS anticipates reduced work hours, lower labor and transportation costs, and even savings on leases.
The New Network
RPDCs, LPCs, and S&DCs – these are the acronyms that are shaping the USPS network redesign. Let's break it down:
Regional Processing & Distribution Centers (RPDCs).
RPDCs are the stars of the show. They will handle all sorts of mail – letters, flats, and parcels – for their designated service area. Think of them as feeding hubs, reducing the number of nodes in the network. The USPS plans to implement 60-65 RPDCs, some converted from existing facilities and some brand new. The goal is to have a more efficient and streamlined operation.
Local Processing Centers (LPCs).
Next up, LPCs. They will closely resemble the existing SCF/plant network but with some modernization along the way. LPCs will handle outgoing mail functions and process letters and flats for their designated area. No more annexes or auxiliary facilities – it's all happening under one roof. There will be around 2-3 LPCs per RPDC region, acting as transfer hubs for 5-digit parcels. The USPS plans to implement 220 LPCs, most likely at existing postal facilities.
Sort & Delivery Centers (S&DCs).
Now let's talk about S&DCs. These facilities have their own implementation timeline, and it's a bit more accelerated. Why? Because the USPS is planning to equip them with charging infrastructure to support their electric delivery vehicles. They want to roll out those shiny EVs, and the S&DCs need to be ready. The USPS envisions 400+ S&DCs, which will serve as package sorting centers and transfer hubs for parcels. They will also accommodate the carrier function for many Delivery Units. These S&DCs will be existing postal facilities, some of which are currently unused. Around 300 of them will be located in previously vacated mail processing plants and transfer centers, with another 100 being co-located in LPCs.
Don't worry, though – the existing retail locations and Delivery Units will continue to operate as usual. The USPS is determined to make these changes without disrupting the retail experience.
What is Planned for Specific Locations
Specific details about the timetable for these network changes are hard to come by. The National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM) put together a great list of expected changes based on searching through a variety of sources – it’s not easy. We borrowed this information from them – with permission.
Here is information that has been shared by the USPS with various stakeholder groups on its initial list of RPDC slated for implementation. Some information indicates that Richmond and Atlanta are the only RPDCs to be implemented this year that will process letters & flats; the others to be implemented this year will only process parcels for the time being.
Richmond RPDC. The Richmond, VA, P&DC currently is slated to be the first RPDC implemented. Changes have appeared in the Labeling List to take effect July 1, 2023, moving ZIP 228 from SCF Richmond to SCF Dulles, and further changes are expected to take effect August 1, 2023. An LPC for most of the region (224-225, 229-232, 244, 288-289) will be co-located in the Richmond RPDC and a second LPC (233-237, 279) will be located in the existing Norfolk P&DC facility. Four S&DCs will also serve the region with 1 co-located in the Norfolk LPC, and 3 more located in Richmond, Charlottesville and Hampton.
Atlanta RPDC. The Atlanta South Metro RPDC is also a new leased building being developed by the USPS like Indianapolis and Charlotte. The USPS reported in Q2 FY2023 that Atlanta will start processing in fall of FY2023. The USPS last fall said it planned to consolidate all the mail processing operations from the Atlanta P&DC, Peachtree P&DC, Atlanta Mail Processing Annex (MPA), and Atlanta Package Support Annex (PSA) into a new Atlanta South Metro P&DC. It reported some delays had been encountered, in January 2023 they said post-construction activity was likely to continue through Q3 FY2024. The USPS also reported that it will have a brand-new facility located in the southwest area of Atlanta.
The Atlanta RPDC region contains 4 LPCs (in existing P&DC facilities): Atlanta LPC (301-303, 311 and 399); North Metro LPC (300, 305, 306); Macon LPC (304, 310, 312, 318-319); and Augusta LPC (298, 308- 309).
Charlotte RPDC. The Charlotte RPDC is also a new leased building being developed by the USPS like Indianapolis and Atlanta. The USPS reported in Q2 FY2023 that Charlotte will start processing in fall of FY2023. The USPS in January 2023 had reported its plans to combine mail processing operations in the region into a modernized Charlotte/Mid-Carolina P&DC and construction was planned to begin Q2 FY2023 and continue through Q2 FY2024.
Chicago RPDC. The existing Chicago NDC facility has been selected by the USPS as one of 2 RPDCs in the Chicago area, and the USPS has begun work to remove obsolete material handling equipment in preparation for future enhancements. The USPS in Q2 FY2023 reported this project would be completed in stages, with the final stage completed in 2024.
Indianapolis RPDC. The Indianapolis RPDC will be a new leased building being developed by the USPS. The building has been developed as a shell by the landlord and the USPS is in the process of outfitting the interior of buildings, installing power, lighting HVAC, and IT systems. The USPS in Q2 FY2023 reported that Indianapolis will be operational in 2024. The USPS also earlier had reported its plans to consolidate all mail processing operations from the Indianapolis P&DC, HS Road Annex, PSA, and the MPA. Construction was anticipated to continue through Q1 FY2024.
Jacksonville RPDC. The Jacksonville NDC will be reconfigured as an RPDC and design work is underway.
Greensboro RPDC. The USPS, in discussions with its labor unions, has included Greensboro NC in the list of RPDCs it currently is working on implementing.
Portland RPDC. The USPS, in discussions with its labor unions, has included Portland, OR in the list of RPDCs it currently is working on implementing. There are 3 LPCs in the Portland RPDC service area: 1 collocated with the RPDC (ZIPs 970-973, 977-978, 986), an LPC In Eugene (974) and an LPC in Medford (975- 976).
Santa Clarita RPDC. The USPS, in discussions with its labor unions, has included Santa Clarita, CA in the list of RPDCs it currently is working on implementing.
North Houston RPDC. The USPS in January 2023 reported that the North Houston P&DC was expanded to consolidate several operations into one location, and that the P&DC would be converted to an RPDC.
Boise RPDC. The USPS, in discussions with its labor unions, has included Boise ID in the list of RPDCs it currently is working on implementing. It should be noted that the Labeling List changes for July 1, 2023, include shifting mail for Salt Lake City UT to Boise ID.
As far as when specific LPC locations will be implemented, the USPS plans to “turn on” the LPC locations served by an RPDC when that RPDC is implemented. See the above RPDC list for information – if any is available – on the LPCs for each RPDC region. The USPS at the recent National Postal Forum said it plans to implement 28+ LPCs by the end of 2024.
The USPS at the recent National Postal Forum said it plans to implement 400 S&DCs, with 24 planned for 2023 in addition to the S&DC at Athens, GA which has already been implemented. The USPS is required to notify its labor unions in advance of changes that result in relocation of employees, and some of the labor unions have been posting information as it is received from the USPS. The most recent S&DC list posted by a USPS labor organization was in May 2023 and included the following S&DC locations and timelines:
June 2023: Annapolis MD; Bartlett-Hanover Park Carrier Annex IL (Elgin, Wayne); Golden CO (Evergreen, Morrison); Kokomo IN P&DF (Forest, Greentown, Russiaville, Sharpsville, Windfall); PASCO WA P&DF (RICWest Richland); and Topeka KS (Rossville, Silver Lake, Gage Center, North Topeka, Sherwood).
Being Considered for Sept 2023: Atlanta GA (Briarcliff Branch, Broadview Station, Cascade Heights Station, Howell Mill/Zone 27, Industrial Branch, Martech Station, Morris Brown Station, Lithia Springs, Mableton); North Atlanta Branch GA (Northside Carrier Annex); Bridgeport CT (Fairfield, Southport); Chula Vista CA (Imperial Beach); Columbia SC (IRMO); Huntington Station NY (Centerport, Greenlawn); Irvine (Silverado); Jackson MI (Brooklyn, Horton, Leslie, Pleasant Lake, Rives Junction); Mid-Hudson NY (Beacon, Clintondale, Cornwall, Cornwall-on-Hudson, Fishkill, Maybrook, Modena, Montgomery, New Paltz, Newburgh MO/STA, Pine Bush, Rock Tavern, Salisbury Mills, Walden, Walkill, Wappingers Falls); Morgantown WV (Bruceton Mills, Reedsville, Rivesville); Palo Alto CA (Sunnyvale); Rockford IL (Belvidere, Pecatonica, Rockford MO/STA); Stockton CA (Acampo, Lockeford, Woodbridge); Terre Haute IN (Brazil, Centerpoint, Clinton, Farmersburg, Lewis, Rosedale, Shelburn, Terre Haute MO/STA); Tulsa Downtown Station (Donaldson, Sheridan) and Waco TX
Naturally all these changes have been definitively decided and carefully scheduled. HAR! I made a little joke there! This is, however, probably the best listing you will see of the planned changes. There will almost certainly be changes. Stay tuned!