Despite the popularity and convenience of email, snail mail thrives. The United States Postal Service (USPS) processes an average of 584 million pieces of mail each day. It takes a lot of ingenuity to deliver that many credit card bills and birthday cards into, out of and across the United States. Before you complain about the next postage rate increase, consider what you really get for the price of a stamp.
The USPS delivers approximately 40 percent of the world’s entire mail. It employs nearly 600,000 workers to complete the task, which in 2009, averaged out to more than 177 billion individual pieces of mail. Due to this high volume, USPS has more staff members and locations than Wal-Mart, Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.
To cope with the huge volume of mail it handles daily, the USPS has developed high-tech machinery. More than 11,000 pieces of processing equipment aid USPS employees on a daily basis. These include countless Automated Package Processing Machines, which can sort through 9,500 packages per hour, and Automated Flat Sorting Machines, which can make it through more than 17,000 envelopes in the same length of time. Perhaps its most impressive technology is the USPS’s “optical character recognition technology.” This technology allows automated mail sorters to read hand-written mail with a 93% rate.
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