Dec. 29 2006 11:46 AM

Over the years, many of us without the volume for huge console inserting systems have had limited choices when it came to creating mailings. Such mailings include regular invoices to customers, bill payments or direct mail campaigns from the marketing department. In all of these cases, our employees were asked to hand fold and stuff all of the outgoing mail or the entire production of the mailing had to be outsourced.


New advances in technology are now providing automated paper folding and inserting systems that are easy-to-use, flexible and can be custom-fit with a number of features to meet your needs. Even better these new systems will not stretch your budget and will allow you to reduce your folding and inserting costs without sacrificing dependability. Designed in both tabletop and freestanding models, folding and inserting systems improve the speed, accuracy and efficiency of processing your outgoing mail.


By utilizing select folding and inserting systems, you can automatically:

1.         Fold and insert documents of different sizes and textures

2.         Pre-fold documents before inserting them into an envelope

3.         Set memory functions to custom fold papers for jobs done on a frequent basis

4.         Adjust speed to accommodate various weights and textures of papers

5.         Load while running to provide higher efficiency and production


Whether you have low-volume monthly or quarterly mailings or thousands of pieces that are mailed daily, there are a variety of folder and inserter systems from which to choose. Regardless of whether or not you are ready to upgrade your equipment, knowing what functions are available will help you make better decisions about the operation of your mail center.


Eliminate Manual Fold and Envelope Stuffing

No matter the size of your organization, the new folder and inserter systems can free your employees from the labor-intensive job of folding and inserting monthly invoices, direct marketing pieces and customer correspondence. Many of the smaller tabletop systems designed for the low-volume mailer offer a range of options.


By integrating feeders that automatically insert flyers, postcards, return envelopes and brochures into your envelope, you can cut down on hours and save time and money. You can determine exactly how many feeders to attach by the number of sheets of paper inserted into an envelope; whether the collated paper is stapled or loose; the type of paper stock that is used (slick, invoice paper, etc.); and whether or not you need to provide a return envelope.


If the material you are working with requires you to match documents, and if speed and accuracy are most important, you might want to consider adding Optimal Mark Reading (OMR) to the system. The real benefit of OMR is that the time it takes to fill an envelope is cut in half and you limit exposure of your confidential information through a complete automation of the process.


Simplifying the Process with OMR

OMR really simplifies and secures the folding and inserting process. By reading tiny instruction marks printed on your document, OMR allows you to perform a number of functions, including processing a variable number of pages per set of documents, inserting pages with supplemental materials and securing the entire process. OMR allows you to skip the presorting process prior to inserting by marking the appropriate page to accumulate or insert. You can program the inserter, activate it and walk away.


OMR also reduces the risk of misreading jobs. If the system cannot read the marks on a document or if there is a break in the sequence of a set of marked documents, then OMR will stop the process and alert you. Some systems will even reject these pieces and keep processing the job.


OMR is intuitive and easy to program. If your mailing needs change and you decide to upgrade to a new system, OMR can easily be attached to that higher volume system.


What's New for the High-volume Mailer

The high-end freestanding folder and inserter systems are designed to offer even greater security and higher productivity, accountability and flexibility. With the proper optional hardware, they can do a number of jobs including collating, folding, inserting, sealing and mailing. Some of the folding and inserting systems connect directly to your postage meter, which increases your overall operating efficiency. By taking advantage of these systems, government entities and a number of large mail center operations in various industries, including healthcare, direct marketing and financial services, are reducing their mail center costs and enhancing the privacy and accuracy of processing their mail. 


Companies find that most high-volume folder and inserter systems are 20 times faster than manually handling the materials. Add-ons such as bin collators and multifeeders can quickly process different sizes of documents and envelope-sized enclosures. Some systems can handle thousands of documents per hour. As an example, a fast and compact folder and inserter system can handle items up to 1/2-inch-thick paper and can fill up to 3,400 envelopes per hour. Many of the higher end folder and inserter systems already come with OMR built on.


After installing a high-performance system, one direct mail company reported its folder and inserter system had greatly increased its productivity. Whereas previously, it took three people and double the time to complete a job, now it only takes one person.


Buying Factors

Folder and inserter systems are easy to use and the control panels are simple to read. Many systems now come with an interactive display panel that offers pre-configured insert, feed and fold settings for a variety of document and envelope sizes, as well as combinations of these. Furthermore, the interactive display panel allows you to individually collect, assemble and position documents before folding them. Some systems come equipped with quick-start features that allow you to add supplies to the system and process the job automatically.


To gauge your firm's folder and inserter system needs, you need to:

1.         Know how many documents you mail on a monthly or quarterly basis

2.         Determine the smallest and largest envelopes that your firm uses

3.         Analyze this volume and determine the complexity of your document applications

4.         Determine if you have any cyclical or seasonal jobs

5.         Identify staffing issues you might face


Your folder/inserter systems equipment dealer can work with you on the paper specifications so they match your system's specifications for optimal efficiency and production.


If you have trouble understanding how much you're paying and what you're getting in return, it's worth clarifying with your systems equipment dealer. Trust your dealer to work with you regardless of the size of your mail center operation. He has the knowledge and skill set to help you select the right equipment for all of your specific mailing needs.


Larry Turner is president of the US region of Francotyp-Postalia (FP Mailing Solutions). For more information, visit or call 800-956-6465.