By Bill Hudson

EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — Every day of the week, 24-hours each day, the conveyor belts zip along at a blurring speed. All sizes and sorts of packages are on a ride wilder than Santa’s sleigh.

Chances are if you mailed a package to somebody this holiday season it made a brief stop at the U.S. Postal Service’s network distribution center in Eagan.

“This machine right here is called the automated package process system,” plant manager Mike Dornbusch said.

Parcels from across Minnesota and western Wisconsin start the journey inside the sprawling facility. Where quick, accurate delivery of each package will largely depend on automation.

“This machine will run 7500 pieces an hour and we’ll work way up to the early morning. Everything that comes in today will be processed and delivered for tomorrow morning’s delivery,” Dornbusch said.

Electric eyes scan the hand-written or typed addresses. Legibility is key to keeping the system humming along. If an address can’t be read by the machine, the package is segregated for manual sorting.

High speed conveyors will send all the packages on their way, kicking each one out into an air mail bag or ground transport box headed to their chosen destinations.

Still, automation alone can’t do the job.

“I’ve got 538 full-time employees and roughly 48 holiday or seasonal employees,” Dornbusch said.

Plant manager Dornbush says it’s the busiest week of the year. 365-thousand packages were sorted and shipped just on Monday.

“It’s my Super bowl and we are going to win,” Dornbusch said, smiling.

A win for the customer with guaranteed delivery by Christmas.

Bill Hudson

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