Commentary & Analysis
Avoiding the Service Bureau Owner's Nightmare
By Bill Dale,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: August 24, 2005
By Bill Dale, Allied Mailing Solutions of Michigan Camera based systems cross multiple vendor inserter platforms and give you uniform checks, balances, and reporting no matter whose equipment you are using on your production floor. August 24, 2005 -- It's every service bureau owner's nightmare: A major client calls and says, "My statement was printed on the wrong stock." "A customer had someone else's pages mixed in with his statement." "My statement was never mailed." What are you or your client services department going to say? How are you going to prove that this didn’t happen? Most importantly what are you going to do to prevent this from ever happening? And if you think all is okay because it hasn’t happened yet, think again. Chances are it can (or maybe even will) occur: remember Murphy’s Law. The buzzword term is Document Integrity. But what does it mean and how do you get it? File-based Processing Well, there are several ways to drastically improve your document integrity. First, you could call in one of the major inserter manufacturers and purchase what is called file-based processing systems. These systems track every piece throughout the inserting processing and record any and all errors or times the piece has been even touched by an operator and what they did to them. They probably offer the highest level of document integrity but also with their high level of integrity comes the associated high prices. Grab your chest because you will have sticker shock! Camera-based Options Let’s say you have legacy equipment that is in good shape but want to raise the bar significantly on your document integrity but don’t own Fort Knox to buy the new systems. What do you do? Simple. Upgrade your systems to camera-based document integrity systems. Camera based systems cross multiple vendor inserter platforms and give you uniform checks, balances, and reporting no matter whose equipment you are using on your production floor. This can be done for about 10-20% of the cost of acquiring new systems. What do these camera integrity systems do? Well, the question may be, what do you want them to do? They can: Read all types of symbologies; barcode, 2D, OCR Verify the right statement was printed on the right stock Verify the right inner or outer envelope or insert was processed with the right job That your multiple page statement collation was totally accurate Jobs were not run or processed twice All misses or duplicates or blanks were caught and not mailed Damaged pieces are sent to a reprint file Real time production and operator statistics are available for production planning Provide Custom reporting to an open database architecture Capture an image if necessary of every mail piece if necessary Several reliable third party camera document integrity vendors are located in the U.S. Each of them have certain niches, either software or hardware wise that makes them a little different from the other. Do your homework relevant to your needs and their capabilities before picking your vendor of choice. Do your homework and you can raise your document integrity level significantly, provide yourself with a competitive edge, and not sweat bullets if you get one of those gut-wrenching questions I mentioned early on. Be prepared, Mr. Murphy is always peeking around the corner.