Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good ol’ snail mail hits infotech highway

Dear Comrades,

India Post is coming up with a slew of technological innovations to improve its services.

From August, the track-and-trace facility will be extended to all registered mail. “Most post offices are getting the software. Registered mail will soon be booked through that. Every registered item will be given a 13-digit bar code number which may be tracked on the India Post website,” said Vineet Mathur, director, mail and speedpost, who is also in charge of General Post Office, Calcutta.

“Many customers are exposed to the tracking facility and are paying our competitors extra for this add-on benefit. But we are offering the facility at the same postage cost,” he said.

Now, only the speed post service offers this facility. “When track-and-trace was launched, there was a leap in the volume of speed post business. We expect the same for registered post as well,” Mathur said.

Also on the anvil is automatic mail processing centres, which will be set up towards the end of the year. This way the sorting of mail will become automated with the machine scanning the postal index number (PIN) code.

“There are two types of machines — the letter sorting machine and the mixed mail sorter which deals with mails of different dimensions,” said Mathur. “The machine scans and changes the pin code into an optical code. Based on the code, a particular slot is designated in the machine where the letter goes and rests. All letters which go to that slot are meant for the same destination and are put in a bag and sent out. Thus it is the machine which is reading the address and doing the sorting.”

A machine, he added, can sort upto 50,000 articles an hour.

Mumbai and Chennai have started automated sorting but they are using older machines. “Calcutta and Delhi are expected to get the latest versions around October.”

A.K. Sanyal, deputy director, business development and marketing, pointed out that the machine had been found to work five times faster than the average manual speed of sorting.

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