As I'm sure many of you can attest, manually collating, folding and stuffing letters, invoices, brochures and other mail pieces can be extremely tedious and time consuming. To save office staff hours of manual processing time, and free them up for more business critical projects, it might be time to consider investing in a piece of folder-inserter technology. Folding-inserting equipment automates much of the mailing process by providing an efficient and cost-effective way to prepare materials for mailing.
If you are new to this type of mailing equipment, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure you choose the right system for your office:
Monthly Volume – All units have a specific maximum monthly volume they can process. In my experience most companies do not come close to this number, but it needs to be looked at. Service contracts may become void if these volumes are exceeded, and you could experience increased service calls and downtime.
Machine Speed – Many units are compared based on speeds that run from 900-33,000 pieces per hour. Keep in mind that this is the cycle speed and actual outputs will depend on many factors, such as number of pieces being inserted, the complexity of your collations, as well as stalls and paper reloads. As a rule of thumb, cut down these speeds by 30% to derive what you can expect in your environment.
Mail Piece Requirements – This is the most important item in selecting a unit. Make sure you know the following about your mailings:
- How many sheets? – Individual sheet feeders can typically pull multiple pieces, but many times this is not how the documents are prepared. Let’s say you have an invoice and a separate advertising piece. Typically these are not printed in the same run and would require a second sheet feeder to process into the envelope.
- How many inserts? – Inserts are items that do not require folding such as a return envelope or small advertising pieces. These typically need to be loaded into separate feeders although some tabletop units are interchangeable.
- Do you need intelligence? – Many units can be configured with a scanner that can read markings on the printed documents. These markings are either optical marks (OMR) or barcodes that tell the inserter how many pieces to collate together prior to folding and inserting. This is very important for organizations sending out invoices and statements that could have varying page lengths. It also provides a higher level of security that the document is not getting into the wrong envelope.
- How does it collate? – If you have multiple pages being pulled from one feeder, you need to make sure that the unit will collate them prior to folding. Most units do but this, but it is something you need to validate, otherwise each page could fold individually, making it difficult for the customer to read. Also, if you are adding inserts, are they nested within the document or outside of the fold on its own?
- Where is the Address? – If you are using window envelopes, you need to make sure your unit can do the right fold to be able to get the address into the right spot. Most of the time the address is at the top of the document and it is not an issue. The problem comes when the address is on the bottom panel as you will see at times with accounts payable and payroll checks. Higher end units will be able to accommodate these types of documents by turning them in the unit. For other models, you can order reverse flap envelopes (The opening is on the bottom vs. the top).
- Do your material sizes meet the vendor requirements? – The majority of mail ran through these systems are standard size paper and envelopes, but they can work with different size materials. Have the vendor test your samples to make sure they run and are within the unit’s specifications. This is imperative with the envelopes. The flap, opening and design can have huge impact on how well the unit performs. Also, you typically need at least ½” of clearance (1/4” on each side) between the document and the envelope, so when the machine opens the flap, the piece can slide in easily. The biggest offender of this is invitation style envelopes, which may be custom and do not typically meet standard specifications.
If you need assistance answering these questions for your business, or have additional mailing requirements or questions, our mailing experts can help.