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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Just in time for the holiday rush, the staff at Yokota’s post office have a new tool to help them sort and track incoming packages.

The A2B system enables postal workers to reduce the time they spend processing packages and filling out customer notification slips.

All Pacific bases will be getting the system soon, said Staff Sgt. Kimberly Parks, noncommissioned officer in charge of postal operations at Yokota. Along with Yokota, Misawa Air Base in northern Japan and Osan Air Base in South Korea have them now, she said.

The system uses handheld computers with built-in bar code scanners, Parks said. In the past when new truckloads of packages were brought to the post office, postal workers had to hand write every notification slip, a process that could take several hours.

With the A2B, all post office box numbers and customer names at Yokota are stored on the computer, allowing for notification slips to simply be printed out with the correct information. That whole process now takes less than an hour, Parks said.

“It makes the job easier because you just have to scan packages to put them in the system,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Conley, noncommissioned officer in charge of Yokota’s postal center.

Another important feature is the A2B’s tracking ability.

Parks said that the program will automatically send an e-mail to customers who sign up for the service to let them know they have a package waiting. It also notifies postal staff if a package has been on the shelf for more than five days.

“I think it’s pretty good,” said Staff Sgt. Lichella Emmanuel. “It gets things off of our shelves a lot faster.”

Conley said the arrival of the A2B in September could not be timelier with the holiday postal rush only weeks away and several members of the staff deployed downrange.

“We’re still in the learning phase with the new system,” he said. “But we’re trying to perfect it.”

Customers who want to sign up for the automatic e-mail notification service should stop by the post office during regular business hours and fill out an A2B form.

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