Having installed a hundred massive Flats Sequencing Systems around the country, the US Postal Service is now looking for a contractor to move a dozen or more of them to new locations. Moving an FSS is no easy task- as the solicitation notes, “Each system accounts for approximately 50 semi-tractor loads of material”. The contractor would be responsible for tearing down the machines at their current locations, and reinstalling and testing them at their new homes.
The USPS had better hope that the relocations go better than the original installations did. A recent New York Times article on USPS delivery problems suggested that the FSS machines were partly to blame:
The post office says several factors have led to what it calls minor delivery delays: the breakdown of older sorting machines, and more time-consuming maintenance; the elimination or consolidation of delivery routes because of declining mail volume; and workers learning how to operate new equipment like a complicated machine the size of a football field that is built by Northrop Grumman to sort catalogs and magazines.
Several larger mailers, including Time, said they had talked with the Postal Service about the machine’s problems, which have resulted in late deliveries. In May, Northrop Grumman sued the Postal Service, accusing it of breaching an $874 million contract by improperly delaying and disrupting the company’s work to install 100 of the machines.
Here is the text of the solicitation:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is seeking sources for upcoming FY 13 requirements to relocate Flats Sequencing Systems (FSS) from their current operating sites to new processing centers. The FSS is a large specialized mail processing platform which contains numerous components and subassemblies. Each system accounts for approximately 50 semi-tractor loads of material. This notice seeks information from potential sources of supply that have recent experience in relocating large and complex electro-mechanical systems. Suppliers must have the capability to perform a baseline inspection and test, teardown, move, re-install, calibrate and then retest the system to the pre-move performance levels. This is a request for information only and is not a solicitation to purchase equipment or services. The USPS intends to use the information gathered through this announcement to pre-qualify multiple sources for the opportunity to submit proposals for future solicitations issued. Performance under any resulting contract(s) is estimated to occur in calendar year 2013 and beyond.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation designed and installed, together with other subcontract sources, the current FSS and deployed a total of 100 systems at 47 sites throughout the United States. The system sorts flat mail into letter carrier Delivery Point Sequence. The USPS currently is planning to move 10 to 12 FSS machines to new sites to increase productivity of its flats operations, however the final number of moves will be determined by future mail volumes and operational needs. The relocations are anticipated to start early in calendar year 2013 and continue through 2014. Several machines may need to be moved at the same time.
As noted above, the FSS is a large and complex machine with a footprint of 15,000 sq. ft. and a total operational floor space of 30,000 sq. ft. The maximum height of the machine is 18 ft. The original deployment required almost 50 semi-tractor loads of material per system. The system is comprised of a Stand Alone Mail Prep (SAMP) system and the FSS Main system.