From Postal Reporter reader:
NEWS RELEASE FROM U.S. POSTAL SERVICE:
Technology Enhancements Prompt Postal Service To Close Remote Encoding Center
(BEAUMONT, TX) —The U.S. Postal Service today announced that the Beaumont Remote Encoding Center (REC) will be closed as part the next phase of a nationwide consolidation plan. The facility, located at 750 Pearl Street will close in November, 2007.
“The Remote Encoding Centers were designed as a temporary solution to automate and expedite the processing of handwritten and poorly printed addresses,” said Danny Smith, manager for the Beaumont REC. “The plan from the start was to downsize the REC operation as technology enhancements enabled us to automate more mail.”
In 1994, when the Beaumont REC and 54 others were established, postal computerized sorting equipment could only read two percent of addresses on handwritten envelopes. Since that time, with new technology improvements, postal computers are currently able to read and process 93 percent of the mail electronically.
Smith said the decision to close the Beaumont REC was based on a variety of business factors, including operating costs, facility costs, lease expiration dates and the ability of other RECs to absorb the workload. The Beaumont closing, and the previous closings since the consolidation process began in 1999, mean that the number of RECs will decline to nine.
The Postal Service is providing the REC employees with six months notice of the closings. The 344 career postal employees at the Beaumont REC will be reassigned to other postal positions in accordance with national collective bargaining agreements. The 549 part-time temporary employees will receive outplacement counseling to help them find new employment.
The remote encoding process involves transmitting electronic images of handwritten mail from mail processing plants to RECs where operators view them on computer screens and key in address information. This information is transmitted back to the postal processing plant where a barcode corresponding to the address is printed on the envelope so that it can be processed on automated equipment. With ever-increasing improvements in optical character recognition technology, the volume of images sent to RECs has diminished significantly and the Postal Service has gradually consolidated them. As technology evolves, the Postal Service will continue to look for opportunities to reduce operating costs and these opportunities will likely include additional REC consolidations in coming years.
Communications Programs Specialist
Southwest Area Public Affairs and Communications