There are several affordable options when it comes to direct mail equipment out there. Typically, it appeals to small and medium-sized businesses that often ship packages to a variety of locations. The range includes everything from inexpensive letter openers to shipping software solutions. Among these, you should especially be looking out for franking machines.
Factors That Help to Choose The Correct Mail Equipment
Quantity and Type of Mail Equipment
- The first step in choosing an appropriate franking machine is to gauge the quantity; and type of mail the business sends out – letters, large letters, parcels.
- Secondly, the frequency of the mails is important – daily, weekly or monthly, for instance.
Next, you should look at the three levels of franking machines that are available.
- Low volume – up to 25 items daily: These are suitable for entry-level customers. The low-volume version is a cost-effective way of handling the daily postal requirements. Also, they render the convenience and professional features of a franking machine.
- Medium volume – up to 50 items daily: These franking machines are suited for businesses sending out anywhere between 26 to 50 letters every day. They are capable of franking at slightly higher speeds. Some are also built-in with automatic feeders.
- High volume – over 50 items daily: These are high-volume franking machines that produce lots of posts, along with regular mailshots and invoicing runs, among others. The high-volume franking machines provide cost savings through more significant discounts. Also, they offer new services such as business mail advanced and online accounting services.
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Feeding and Stacking the Envelopes
Another pertinent question to ask is how do you need the mail fed in and out? Mail feeding is crucial as it determines the level of mail equipment and ease of operations. The typical methods are below.
- Hand Feeding: Push in and pull out – This is the most basic feeding and stacking method. It is common in low-volume units that have a speed range between 15 to 25 per minute.
- Hand Feeding: Push from the left, and the machine feeds it through the unit. Also, the method is seen in low to mid-volume units having a speed range between 25 to 65 per minute.
- Automatic Feeding: In this one, you have to put a heap of mail onto the stacker, and the mail equipment will pull them into the unit. The units are much easier and quicker compared to hand-feed units. Also, they process higher volumes. The feeding happens through automatic alignment. Automatic alignment is where an internal scale system enables you to run; different sizes and weights of letters and flats together. This automatic alignment feature is common in medium to high-volume automated feed systems.
- Drop Stacker: It is an exit option found in low and medium-volume applications.
- Power Stacker: A power stacker is an exit option for high-volume applications. The mail equipment consists of a conveyor and a pressure wheel. The latter helps improve sealing. These features enable the stacker to hold up to 500 finished mail pieces.
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Sealing the Envelopes
Another aspect to look at is the sealing of envelopes; whether you need the system and how to prepare the mail seal before sealing?
Manual sealing is time-consuming. After a point, the tongue can get sore. Therefore, the medium and high-volume categories have a sealing standard. But, that too is optional in low-volume units today. Nevertheless, automatic feed systems with large processing quantities must adhere to the regulations.
In this mechanism, the flaps are down like they came in the box of envelopes. The system shall open the piece slightly and run it under the brush or sponge. Since it tries to seal each piece; one should double-check whether the envelopes are sealed. If that is the case; they could rip or get jammed. The sealed ones should be run together before processing with the sealer turned off.
Open flaps mean that the envelope flaps are stacked upon one another. The option is available only for high-volume automatic feed machines. However, the benefit is that you can run sealed and unsealed mails together.
Open and Closed Flaps Sealing
Some of the high-volume automatic feed systems are capable of sealing open-flap and closed-flap envelopes. This duality also provides flexibility for companies having different types of mails from several departments.
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One should assess – how many pieces are too big to fit in the system and whether a meter tape is needed? Often, you will need to run mail or packages that are thick. Therefore, all vendors offer meter tapes compatible with the unit. Note that the bigger the piece, the cheaper the tapes become.
- Strip Tape Sheets – Low-volume mailing systems use tape sheets that run through the machine like envelopes. The tape sheets have two or four places for printing the postage. Plus, the tapes are self-adhesive and easy to apply.
- Strip Tape Dispenser – The medium and high volume units have separate tape dispensers. These can be placed at the touch of a button. The tapes come two to a strip that is perforated in the center. Consequentially, the strips can rerun on the other side. Plus, they are self-adhesive.
- Rolling Tape – The mechanism is for medium or high-volume automatic feeding systems. The roll tape dispenser cuts the tapes into the appropriate size. With this one, you need not load the tape strips into a dispenser and rerun the backsides. Some high-volume units provide an option for gummed back tape that comes out wet.
The latest trend involves connecting the unit to software for processing 4×6 in. shipping labels. These labels include destination, return address, postage, and tracking barcode. The system helps save up to 56% costs on postage.
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What you read above are the primary factors in selecting effective mail equipment. However, you must consider other aspects, including weight, space requirements, and price.
That being said, most organizations tend to lease the mailing system. The benefit is that the services, such as rental, resets, postage advances, maintenance, and scale rate changes are included in the monthly payment quote.
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