BUFFALO DUO STARTING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
With mail volumes declining and customer habits changing, USPS continues to look at every opportunity to make the most of its resources. Some initiatives — closing Post Offices or changing delivery frequency — are governed by law. But there are other options that can improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) is one option that’s leading to tangible savings without affecting customer service. In Buffalo, NY, the Kenmore Branch and Northside Station are 2 miles apart. USPS had leased property for Kenmore Branch vehicles, but the Northside site had a garage and a spacious, fenced parking lot. With mail volume dropping and route adjustments looming, Buffalo Postmaster Jay Phelan decided letter carriers and vehicles from both units could be combined into a single facility.
Phelan says the results were clear. “By combining our carrier and distribution operations at Northside, we eliminated one customer service manager position, reduced two daily motor vehicle trips from the plant and better utilized distribution resources,” said Phelan. “Most important, our customers didn’t notice any difference.”
Still, combining units means change for employees. As the consolidation began, several carrier routes were adjusted, clerks experienced scheme changes, and Northside’s work area had more carrier cases and lockers.
Northside Manager, Customer Services, Patty Pughakoff said it wasn’t easy at first. Eventually, employees adjusted to the change. “Now, we don’t look at our facility as two separate units — we’re one postal family,” she says. “Everyone — the management team, clerical staff, maintenance staff and carriers — played a part in making this work.”
Letter Carrier Mike Novo is one of the Kenmore employees who moved to Northside. He also said he has adjusted to the new work site, but noted the change wasn’t easy. “Many of us had worked at the Kenmore Branch for 15 years or more,” he said. “You have ingrained habits and traditions; you’re used to your surroundings and your routines. But we wanted to make sure that the move was worth it and that it really benefits the Postal Service.”