There are a lot of things in life that we somewhat take for granted. Like, how water comes out from the tap whenever we turn it on. I mean, how many of us think about the mails and parcels that arrive at our house every day, right?
I know there’s a postman involved somewhere between the sending and the receiving. (And I always write a “Thanks Mr. Postman :)” on my letters because I imagine posting letters must be a really tough job.) But I’ve never really wondered about how the colossal of letters are sorted and sent out every day.
Did you know: SingPost’s history can be traced back to the founding of Singapore in 1819?
And so I was invited by SingPost for a little tour to see the behind-the-scene of its operations to understand how our letters are sorted and posted after collection.
What happens between mail collection and delivery?
1. We are probably most familiar with and may even have seen postmen collecting letters from the post boxes. Mail is also collected from post offices, airports and seaports to the processing centre. The customs are in charge of screening through the overseas mail and this is where some mails get stopped because they carry items that aren’t meant to get in to Singapore.
2. Then our mail is transported to the sorting machine. It’s kind of like a sushi bar conveyer belt.
3. Next, the mail is sorted. Stamped mail is sent to the Culler Facer Canceller (CFC), this is where mail is arranged and odd-shaped items are removed for manual sorting. At this point, an identification tag is also printed(it’s this pale orange barcode-like ID that you sometimes see on the back of the envelopes you receive, and because of the colour of this code, it is why you have to use white envelopes, preferably, to get your mail sent out faster). At the same time, the machine captures an image of the address information on the envelope so an offline Optical Character Reader can process the data. Those letters that are of a standard format already have the ID printed and are sent to the Bar Code Sorter for further processing.
4. Now, if the sender’s handwriting is so bad that the Optical Character Reader can’t understand it, the image of the address will be read by operators who will try to read each item within 14 seconds. Talk about speed reading!
5. On the other hand, those that comes with an ID tag that got read by the automated Bar Code Sorter will have a destination barcode printed on the front of the envelope.
6. Then, the Delivery Bar Sorter sorts mail into delivery sequence and trays of mail are loaded into containers for despatch!
7. And finally, the sorted mail is sent to delivery bases where the postmen take them to our homes and offices!
And I did my part for the postal service heh heh!
How to make sure your mail gets sent fast
Did you know: Over 3 million mail items are processed at the Singapore Post Centre every day?
Because a lot of processes are automated, if you want your mail and packages to be delivered out as fast as possible and without any damage, it is important to assist the machines in sorting out your mails. Here are tips:
1. Use a standard envelope (C4, C5, C6 or DL).
2. If you’re mailing things, protect the items with bubble wrap. Always use a good quality envelope that wouldn’t tear easily.
3. Write your address clearly (especially the 6-digit postal code) and with a ballpoint pen so it wouldn’t smudge even if it comes in touch with rainwater (or hailstones!). If you’re typing, use font size 12.
4. Affix sufficient postage
5. Write a return address
Funny items that get mailed
It’s funny how some people put funny things in the mailbox. Many of the items include:
1. Dear God letters – Unfortunately, these get thrown away, but hey, God has received them, I’m sure!
2. Wallets (usually without money) – the wallets are dumped out but the important documents are returned to the respective authorities.
3. Dear Santa letters – SingPost does a little charity act by sending them to Santa in Finland in December!
4. Identity cards, passports and other important documents – these are returned to the relevant authorities.