Visit to Royal Mail Sorting Office, Brighton. 4th Feb.
Twenty three members attended a most successful visit to the Brighton Sorting Office which is one of the 80 Automated Offices in the B.P.O. Systems. We were taken through the various stages from the bulk arrival of the mail from the whole of the Sussex Coast Area to the final packaging, bagging and forwarding to either local destinations or one of the other 79 Automated Offices,
We saw the automatic date stamp and cancelling machines, the segregation into 1st and 2nd class streams which also extracts nonstandard items. Letters go either to the Optical Character Recognition machine which reads typewritten addresses and changes the post codes into bars for sorting. The machine at Brighton achieves a handling speed of 25 – 27,000 letters per hour. Some letters (awkward size, extra thick, and air mail go to the coding desks where the post code is typed manually and translated into a series of blue phosphor dots. This type of work is precise but repetitive and could easily lead to boredom and error but flexibility of duties has been introduced by management to avoid this. The automatic sorting machines read the dots and sorts the mail at a rate of about 20,000 per hour and these are then labelled for the appropriate sorting office.
We were impressed by the efficient functioning of the overall system bearing in mind the staffing problems involved in the combination of manual work with semi-automatic and full automatic working and the need to meet the fluctuation in traffic (items to be handled) in each day throughout the season, and week and during each day.
We also appreciated the advantages of using standardized envelope sizes, putting stamps in the top right hand corner and printing addresses clearly.
Our three guides were helpful and handled the number of awkward questions you expect from engineers.