USPS installs robots to speed up mail deliveries, but supply chain issues linger

Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — This year, the U.S. Postal Service is modernizing to make sure you get your holiday packages on time.

It’s installed 112 automated sorters in facilities across the country, all part of USPS’ $40 billion plan for financial stability and improved service over the next decade.

Here in Texas, that includes Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

They range from mobile robots for smaller packages, which can handle 9,000 packages an hour, to larger machines.

“Another new piece of equipment for us, it handles small to medium packages does about 3,000 pieces in an hour,” Ron Ralph, a USPS processing plant manager in Austin, said this week.

Each machine is able to run 20 hours a day.

“The last year during peak, to give you an idea, we worked everything manually by hand. We had no equipment in here. And this time last year you wouldn’t be able to walk in this building,” Ralph said, pointing to the open space in the warehouse.

If customers face delays this year, it’s most likely due to supply chain issues. Americans spent $100 million less this Cyber Monday compared to last year.

“People aren’t spending, because they can’t get it. We’re seeing a little bit of a bump, because yesterday, we ran out of mail,” Ralph said.

“Businesses are short staffed, so they’re unable to get things on the shelf. But on the flip side, manufacturers don’t have enough workers creating the product that needs to get into the supply chain,” marketing professor Angeli Gianchandani explained.

Business experts encourage online shoppers to check with their local retailers to see if they have something in stock in store before ordering for delivery, as that could cut down on any oversea shipment delays.

“Because we don’t have enough workers at the ports, we have containers stuck at the port,” Gianchandani added.

Carissa Reiniger with Small Biz Silver Lining suggests this also opens the door for more local shops, too.

“Probably anything coming from overseas or coming global is not going to make it [at this point]. But there’s so much beauty in our local communities. And I think that one of the things that COVID has taught us is that if we choose our communities over convenience, if we buy from our local small business, if we do something special with our neighborhood, we actually can have a big impact on the businesses around us,” Reiniger added.

USPS said it’s ready to handle any of Texas’ local shipping needs.

“When it does build up, and the mail does come, we are ready. We’re going to get it out,” Ralph said.

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