SANDSTON, Va. (WRIC) — With a new automated delivery unit parcel sorting machine, the U.S. Postal Service warehouse in Henrico County has increased its capacity to process mail by 40,000 packages a day, just in time for the busiest shipping season of the year.

USPS spokesperson Philip Bogenberger said that the Automated Delivery Unit Sorter (ADUS) was installed at the Sandston facility in August, one of just 112 of such new machines across the country. A worker at the facility told 8News that the machine can handle about 3,500 parcels an hour.

“It’s helping everybody stay on time, especially for the holidays,” Bogenberger said. “They sort packages 10 to 12 to sometimes 15 times faster than manual sorting.”

The USPS warehouse in Sandston is actually home to five parcel sorting machines, which makes it one of the larger facilities. Its biggest parcel sorter can process approximately 10,000 packages each hour.

This is one of five parcel sorters at the USPS facility in Sandston, Va. This is where the camera scans the barcode. (Photo: Brad Vassar)

But Bogenberger said that these machines are in no way replacing USPS workers. Depending on the type of parcel sorter, workers must direct packages from a drop box to the machine, where the barcode will be scanned so the machine can automatically sort the package to a bin that corresponds with the recipient’s zip code.

“We hired 40,000 people across the country as seasonal staff,” Bogenberger said. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

In Henrico County, the USPS facility brought on an additional 350 temporary workers for the holiday season, contributing to the workforce of roughly 2,000 individuals that are in the warehouse at any given time.

At its peak, the Sandston facility processes approximately 402,000 parcels in a single day. A worker there told 8News that while that peak day has historically been Dec. 15, the date on which the warehouse processes its most packages has gotten closer to Christmas Day in recent years, with the increase of online shopping.

This new ADUS parcel sorter was installed in August, increasing the USPS facility in Henrico County’s capacity to process an additional 40,000 packages each day. (Photo: Brad Vassar)

Those looking to have packages reach their destination by Christmas are running out of time to ship. Below are the deadlines for delivery before Dec. 25:

  • First-Class Mail – Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail – Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail Express – Dec. 23

Bogenberger said that the postal service’s investment in new machines and additional workers is all part of an effort to make sure deliveries are made on time, despite challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the 2020 holiday season.

“There were some unforeseen circumstances everybody was dealing with across the country at all companies, and the postal service was able to weather that storm as quickly as possible,” he said.

However, 8News reached out to local residents in Central Virginia regarding mail delivery from USPS. While some said that they have not experienced issues with their mail since the spring, others said that they are still waiting on overdue letters and packages to arrive.

“Each mail piece throughout the year matters to us,” Bogenberger said. “I think it’s a little bit more special during this time, just because we know we’re bringing something special for the holidays to every home and business in America.”