At the August Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), the USPS shared its latest plans and updates on the technical tools employed by the USPS. What was noticeably missing from the agenda was specific reference to IMb. This does not suggest that IMb is less relevant. To the contrary, it means that we've moved beyond a discussion of the IMb itself and have advanced to talking about the many applications that the IMb is driving. Many such applications have been discussed over time, including eInduction, Seamless Acceptance, initiatives around payment and acceptance, and, what we will focus on for this article, service performance and overall mail visibility.

The USPS reported achieving historic highs on service measurement numbers and exceeding the goal in nearly every category since they began tracking using the full-service IMb.

Service Goal Qtr 3

1/C Overnight 96.65% 97.1%

2 Day 94.15 96.59

3-5 Day 92.35 96.19

Std SCF Letters 90.0 93.09

SCF Flats 90.0 85.82

NDC Letters 90.0 93.05

NDC Flats 90.0 90.02

Periodicals 91.0 83.07

1&2 Day

Credit for the continued climb in the numbers goes to the Service Delivery diagnostics tool that the USPS now employs, which is based on the IMb. The USPS now measures and manages "Work in Process" or WIP. This is defined as the time it takes to move the mail from the point of induction, to loading the mail on a sorter for processing. The IMb provides the visibility to the USPS via their newly developed service diagnostics tool and has dramatically reduced the "wait time" for mail. Overall, this benefits the USPS, mailer, and mail recipient significantly. In addition, this tool provides a warning system for any pallet of mail that is at risk of failing to meet the service standards, which allows plant managers to locate the pallet in question and resolve any issue leading to a delay.

With the ability to closely monitor mail as it travels through USPS processing, additional benefits can be realized. For example, the USPS is working on the capability to share the overall mail processing times by area, so mailers can better determine the mail induction dates to get the mail in the mailbox on a specific day. Again, this is all made possible by the implementation of the full-service IMb.

So, with all of this activity around the tools that the IMb is making a reality, mailers are encouraged to move into full-service IMb as soon as it makes sense for their business. It's certain that the mandatory date of January 2013 (POSTNET retirement) will happen, as well as the January 2014 for full-service IMb being the only option for automation discounts.

Beyond the January 2014 date, full-service IMb is required to take advantage of any future mail incentives offered by the USPS. Here€s a list of potential incentives for 2013:

· Feb- March: Coupons - Mobile integration & click to call

· May - July: CRM/BRM earned value

· Aug - Sept: Emerging technologies (ex. augmenting reality or watermarking), samples, and picture permit

· Nov - Dec: Buy it now (scan and pay directly from a catalog)

If you are still unsure of how to move forward in your IMb adoption, a great deal of information is available on the USPS Ribbs website at:, where you can find various technical updates and past/present webinars.

In addition, your vendor of choice for mailing software solutions can offer guidance to get you migrated from the Postnet barcode. Given the incentives that are being discussed, as well as the many additional benefits of being full-service IMb compliant, waiting may not be in the best interest of your company.