Speed-reading Robot Set For Annapolis Area Mail

April 03, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

All mail coming into the Annapolis area will soon be processed by a state-of-the-art robot that can read and sort 30,000 envelopes an hour.

The U.S. Postal Service is looking for land in the Annapolis area to build an automated delivery distribution center that would serve southern Anne Arundel County.

A new modernized system, in which all letters with South County ZIP codes will be processed at the regional center, is scheduled to bein place by 1995, said Pat Komeshak, eastern regional planning analyst for the U.S. Postal Service.

The sorting system -- manufacturedby Bell and Howard and Westinghouse -- can read typed and well-printed addresses off the the envelope and translate the information into a UPC bar code. Next, a sorting machine will arrange the letters in the exact order they will be delivered by carriers on their routes.

The Lutherville/Timonium post office is the nearest similar regionalpost office, equipped with a scanner that can read ZIP codes. But the Baltimore County center doesn't have equipment that will sort mail by street and carrier routes or that can read handwriting like the proposed Annapolis center.

Clerks would still be needed at the various post offices to sort letters addressed in cursive or scribbled addresses, but the Postal Service hopes to cut office work in half withthe new system.

"This is one way we can handle more mail using less carriers who will be lost through attrition. We are trying to holddown future rate increases," said spokeswoman Irene Lericos of the Baltimore post office.

Lericos said the number of carriers nationwide has dropped by 30,000 in the past year as prototypes of the automation systems planned for Annapolis have gone on-line. The Postal Service plans to serve the entire country with regional automated sortersby 1995.

Gail Stollenwerk, the postal official who is in charge of locating the new Annapolis center, said she is looking for five- toeight-acre sites. The sites must be industrially zoned and suitable for a one-story, 54,000-square-foot structure, she said.

Postal officials have been searching since last April for land that would become the site for a regional center to serve Arnold, Glen Burnie, Hanover, Linthicum Heights, Millersville, Pasadena, Severna Park and partsof Howard County.

Lericos did not know when to expect the two projects to be completed or how much they would cost, since technology and plans are still under development.

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