USPS hopes robotic processing in Oakland will help the holiday rush

The U.S Postal Service showed off a new addition at its Oakland Processing and Distribution Center just in time for the holiday rush.

Last year USPS faced a host of problems that caused widespread delivery delays. Officials said they're doing everything they can to avoid the problems of the past. They've added new equipment and hope to hire more workers.

The Postal Service gave a KTVU crew a behind-the-scenes tour.

The distribution center is the first site to test and successfully use a new robotic arm.

Officials said it makes sorting more efficient. It helps direct oversized packages and those with irregular labelling to the proper destination. It is of a system that includes cameras and mirrors.

"It looks at all six sizes of a package and based on that information, it sorts the mail," said Eduardo Cuadra, maintenance manager at the facility.

He said the robotic arm cost $650,000 and it debuted in July. "We want to make sure everybody knows we're working on efficiency this happens to be one of those new products."

The U.S. Postal Service said the automation does not take away jobs.

"We need people to not only maintain the equipment. We need them to help us load the equipment and help us process the equipment," said Kristina Uppal with the U.S. Postal Service, "Our employees are also working in a more efficient manner. It's helping them to do their job to their best."

And the U.S. Postal Service is looking to hire.

Mail processing plants in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond have 1,000 jobs to fill.

Officials said reliable service is their priority.

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"We know our customers have relied on us for over 240 years and we don't take that lightly. So we're here and committed to our customers," said Uppal.  

The robotic arm will be added to sorting systems at mail processing centers all over California and across the nation next year.

Officials said they've seen an increase in packages each year due to online shopping and they're advising people to ship early during the holiday season.  

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