May 17, 2020

USPS announces 2012 changes

Supply Chain Digital
usps
United States Postal Service
US
Freddie Pierce
2 min
The United States Postal Service announced some changes to its 2012 plans, including the Express Mail Flat Rate Box
Postal Service customers will be able ship a box for overnight delivery anywhere in the country for one price regardless of weight (up to 70 lbs) start...

Postal Service customers will be able ship a box for overnight delivery anywhere in the country for one price regardless of weight (up to 70 lbs) starting Jan. 22, 2012. That's when the Express Mail Flat Rate Box debuts and new Shipping Services prices take effect.

“The introduction of the Express Mail Flat Rate Box leverages the success of our Priority Mail Flat Rate advertising campaign and further positions the Postal Service as the best value in the shipping business,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing/sales officer.

The new box, priced at $39.95 for domestic mailing, will be available for customers who need overnight service for items larger than what can be placed in an Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope.

Other Express Mail changes include lower retail prices for half- and one-pound packages and commercial packages to local and close-in areas. The new retail price for the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope is $18.95.

The overall price change for all Shipping Services is 4.6 percent, with Priority Mail prices increasing an average 3.1 percent and Express Mail prices increasing an average 3.3 percent. New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:

  • Small box — $5.35
  • Medium box — $11.35
  • Large box — $15.45
  • Large APO/FPO/DPO box — $13.45
  • Regular envelope — $5.15
  • Legal-size and Padded envelope — $5.30

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Also new for 2012 is Package Intercept for commercial mailers, available through a customer interface on Business Customer Gateway. For $10.95 plus Priority Mail postage, customers can request mail be intercepted before final delivery is attempted to the initial delivery address. The shipment can be returned to sender, held for pick up at a Post Office, or redirected to an alternate address. Intercepted packages are shipped using Priority Mail.

First-Class Package Service (formerly known as First-Class Mail commercial parcels and now a Shipping Services product) will see an overall price increase of 3.7 percent. The Intelligent Mail package barcode will provide free visibility to these parcels.

Prices will also be adjusted for other Shipping Services products and services, including Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service, International Mail, Premium Forwarding Service and Post Office Box Service.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes.

Edited by Kevin Scarpati

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Jun 19, 2021

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried

Logistics
SCALA
supplychain
Brexit
Rob Wright, Executive Director...
4 min
Logistics professionals need urgent solutions to a shortage in drivers caused by a perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and compounding economic factors

While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks. 

A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so. 

What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.

"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"


That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.

But where has this skills shortage stemmed from? 

Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.

COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.

It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing. 

So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done? 

Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change. 

Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line. 

On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains. 

Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months. 
 

Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

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