June 30, 2017

Three Ways to Process More Mail (Without Buying New Equipment)

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Want to get more mail processed in less time? You may not have to invest in faster mail inserting equipment. If the existing gear is running satisfactorily, document operations managers can squeeze productivity gains from existing machinery by concentrating on one simple goal: keeping the inserting equipment running more often.

Strategies to increase the number of minutes an inserter is processing mail can trigger changes in many areas of the workflow including production floor layout, material handling, waste disposal, and document design. The best opportunities for productivity improvement are different in every organization.

Here are three areas sure to increase mail production in nearly every document processing operation.

Fill Fewer Envelopes with Less Pages

Whenever a mailing operation can insert two or more documents formerly destined for separate envelopes, they gain efficiencies. Reducing the number of pages that go into those envelopes will also create higher throughput numbers. A variety of methods can achieve this result:

  1. A householding strategy might simply merge all the pages from multiple jobs and combine those destined for the same address. Document Processing Operations departments can accomplish this task with document re-engineering software such as Crawford Technologies’ Operations Express. This software collates the pages, renumbers them, and updates mailing machine barcodes and control files, all without a need for IT resources.

    With the same software, companies can drop redundant pages. Lower page counts improve inserting efficiency as fewer pages are fed, accumulated, and folded. Page count reduction creates bonus productivity gains in the print step and cost savings in paper, ink, and maintenance!

  2. More efficient use of white space, narrower margins, duplexing, and turning generic boilerplate text into data-driven variables can all reduce the number of pages to process. With fewer pages, some accounts mailed as slow-processing flats or 6 x 9 envelopes can transition to swifter letter inserting production lines. Transactional document producers use Operations Express to reformat documents, getting more data on fewer pages.
  3. In the USA, the US Postal Service has increased the weight limit for First Class Letters to 3.5 ounces. This means Document Operations can insert documents formerly run as separate jobs, such as annual privacy notices, with regular work like bills or statements with no increase in postage costs. Inserting capacity is reclaimed when standalone jobs are eliminated.

Make Bigger Jobs

Some of the biggest productivity-busters persistent in the inserting step are the inter-job periods filled with chores such as unloading materials, moving cartons, retrieving material from the warehouse, machine set-up, balancing, and logging. Machines often sit idle for fifteen to thirty minutes, six to eight times per shift. Longer-running jobs will cut the number of wasteful idle periods per day.

  1. Choose a common outbound envelope for as many applications as possible. Some shops use double-window envelopes, others attach inkjet printers to their inserting equipment to spray variable return addresses and logos. Document re-engineering software can reposition or reformat address blocks to fit the window locations of the standard envelopes, allowing Document Operations to merge small jobs into more efficient units of work.
  2. Cut pre-printed insert inventories by adding data-driven onserts to transactional document pages. This strategy improves throughput by eliminating stops to switch material in the insert feeders.

Automate!

Mailers may think of Automated Document Factory (ADF) technology in terms of mailpiece integrity, which it certainly provides. ADF systems like PRO Production Manager from Crawford Technologies also contribute to productivity. Here are some ways:

  1. Automated balancing eliminates manual reconciling at the end of jobs, shortening the inter-job idle times.
  2. Automatic reprints powered by the ADF system can eliminate the time-consuming task of examining document pages and manually assembling mailpieces when an inserting jam occurs. The ADF system will record unfinished pieces and schedule them for reprinting. The equipment operators need only remove the damaged material and continue the job. This strategy also eliminates inadvertent privacy violations caused by manual mismatch mistakes.
  3. Mailpiece integrity checks at the end of the inserter stop the machine if a piece is missing. The ADF allows operators to diagnose problems, such as double-feeds, at the point it occurs. Without such functionality, operators or quality control people comb through mail trays manually after finishing the job, searching for the envelope that was double-stuffed.

The right software can improve inefficient workflows and generate the same productivity gains provided by brand new, and expensive, inserting equipment. Document, material, or workflow modifications are easy ways to be efficient and produce more mail without reducing profits.

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