JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you want to get your holiday packages to arrive in time for Christmas, you need to make a move quickly because time is running out. The United States Postal Service’s deadline for ground and first-class shipping is this Saturday, Dec. 17.
At the Jacksonville Package Support Annex on North Main Street, the employees work around the clock. One of the primary machines they utilize, the Flexible Rover, looks like something straight out of science fiction. At least at first glance. The machine moves around by following an invisible grid, almost like a train track. It scans, processes, and sorts around 1,200 packages an hour.
Michael Willard, the Executive Plant Manager, said the holidays always bring in extra packages and this year is no different. Willard said the facility services all of Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala, Savannah, Waycross, Valdosta, etc.
“This facility alone in Jacksonville, we were 70,000 packages over the same day last year,” Willard said.
While the Flexible Rover is fun to look at and work with, the Single Induction Parcel Sorter gets the job done as well. Using a conveyor belt, it scans packages in a more traditional capacity. It’s used for sorting smaller packages, typically those 20 pounds or less. Willard said it’s capable of processing 3,200 packages an hour.
With both these machines working around the clock, the last thing anyone wants is for it to break down. Willard said this can happen when people fail to properly wrap their packages.
“We have a lot of machinery, packages fall on top of each other, and they can pop open if you only put one piece of tape over the top and the bottom,” Willard said. “I strongly recommend you put tape around all the edges.”
No matter what you’re sending this holiday season, Willard said the earlier you mail, the better.
“I know for my grandson who lives in Chicago, my wife and I make sure we mail it a couple days ahead of the deadline, just to make sure it’s there for him on Christmas,” Willard said.
The deadline for shipping priority mail is Dec. 19, Express Mail is Dec. 23, Ground and First-Class shipping is Dec. 17.