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Swift progress

Continuous Improvement helps Puerto Rico deliver

Team members gather at Guaynabo Station in Puerto Rico. From left are New Stanton, PA, Postmaster Christopher L. Verosky; Steven Hernandez, Texas 3 District manager; and Virgil E. Cosma, Texas 1 District’s operations integration manager.

The packages were quickly piling up. Who would be surprised?

Headwinds buffeting Puerto Rico’s Post Offices were coming from all directions: COVID-19 staffing issues. Storm-damaged infrastructure. A 41 percent increase in package volume compared with the prior year.

The island’s postal workers forged on as best they could, but it was hard to keep up.

That’s when employees from Delivery Operations and Continuous Improvement came together to get deliveries back on track.

They traveled to Puerto Rico in mid-June and got to work finding solutions, with one team focused on the Caguas Post Office.

“We worked with craft and management to come up with better ways to reduce the backflows,” Acting Master Black Belt Louis DiLeo said. This included “new layouts, new equipment, proper staffing and standard work instructions — an Operational Excellence and Daily Management System approach.”

Other changes made by the team — whose members include Robert Hanlon, a retail and Post Office operations support manager, and Virgil Cosma, an operations integration manager — involve improvements in the processing of large parcels, better use of automated delivery unit sorters and the addition of more precareer staffing.

“The team was very innovative in working together as a team to identify the challenge and put processes in place to increase processing capacity,” said Mark Dahlstrom, Gulf Atlantic Division’s processing operations senior director.

With support from District Manager Neftali Pluguez, progress has been swift: There were eight sites with delays, but that number has been cut to two. The project is expected to wrap up before the end of August.

DiLeo’s advice for Post Offices that find themselves in a similar position? “Always contact their district manager and operations industrial engineers for support.”

He added that headquarters would soon be issuing playbooks “to help the field reduce backlogs and improve efficiencies.”

Herminio Rivera, a Puerto Rico District Post Office operations manager, and Luis Montalvo, the Caguas officer in charge, are grateful.

One carrier told the team: “Thank you for coming to the island and rolling up your sleeves and creating a system that works.”