Out of 26 million Texans, you may have an idea to change the world. You may have had several ideas to change the world. But only a tiny minority of you pushed through the U.S. Patent office from application to successful patent. We've seen Texans change the world many times over. Jack Kilby did it with Texas Instruments in 1958 with the integrated circuit, causing the start of the digital revolution, which, in part, is why you can read these words over your electronic device.
Over the last few years, Texas Business has brought its feature: Texas Business Patent of the Day. This list is of the ones that were either extremely clever, odd or strange. One thing becomes apparent from these patents and the patent that runs daily in Texas Business—Texans have a unique mind set.
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U.S. Patent 7,949,613: Apparatus for improved sortation and delivery point processing of military mail
Texas Business reports: Four Texans invented a method to sort and process military mail more efficiently and accurately.
Alan O’ Martin of Coppell, Robert Fisher of Arlington, Carlos Macia of Plano and Wayne Sipe of Mansfield received U.S. Patent 7,949,613 for “Apparatus for improved sortation and delivery point processing of military mail.”
The patent assignee is Siemens Industry Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia.
The four men filed for the patent more than eight years ago on May 2, 2003.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) handles a large volume of mail addressed to U.S. military personnel stationed both within the Continental United States (CONUS) and Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).
Mail delivery to military personnel is a difficult process. Military mail addresses do not have the standard name, street, city, state, format commonly used by the USPS. Physical delivery is difficult because military units/service members change locations frequently. Under the existing system, OCONUS mail is routed through the USPS to collection sites currently located at the San Francisco (SF) mail terminal, New York (JFK) mail terminal, and Miami (MIA) mail terminal. Each of these sites receives mail for a number of preassigned special military ZIP codes.
At these sites, military and U.S. Postal Service personnel provide further sortation and transportation of mail to military personnel overseas. Mail at each site is sorted, packaged and then shipped generally by plane to a distribution point associated with the military ZIP code. The sorting process uses a ZIP code sort plan that limits the number of address locations and provides only a coarse level of destination sorting. A finer level of destination sorting is accomplished by the military at the destination distribution points. Military personnel on site aid the USPS in determining where to ship the mail. For example, a large naval vessel such as an aircraft carrier receives a large number of mail pieces, but the ship may be anywhere in the world. The U.S. military tracks these movements and advises the USPS where to ship mail sorted for a given ship. At various military destination sites overseas, one of which is Tokyo, the mail is delivered to the U.S. military which then distributes it further to specific units and individual servicemen.
Mail forwarding procedures in use by the U.S. military are inefficient. Mail addressed to a serviceman who has moved is most often delivered to the old address/unit. One member of that unit, responsible for mail distribution (mail clerk), marks it with forwarding information and re-introduces it into the USPS mail stream, after which it is sent again to one of the USPS collection sites and sent on. USPS change of address forms are provided by the USPS, but seldom are used in a timely manner. Due to the high mobility of military personnel, as much as a third of all military mail is incorrectly addressed and must be forwarded to the service member's new address. During contingencies, the location of military personnel is frequently unknown at the collection sites, for a variety of reasons.
The four men’s method includes compiling military unit and associated delivery code information into a computer searchable military address management system database which associates a military unit zip code with a current geographic location for that unit.
Military unit personnel change of address information from a number of sources including a national change of address database maintained by a federal postal service are input into the system, and the information is compiled into a computer searchable database to redirect incorrectly addressed mail pieces to a military mail recipient's current address.
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