There are a variety of reasons you may be having productivity issues. Here is how to fix them.

Poorly Running Material

Insufficient clearance - Measure from the edge of the widest piece of material to the edge of the envelope. For most inserters, less than 1/8" clearance on either side is going to be troublesome. Make sure vendors supplying inserts and materials are aware of minimum and maximum size specifications to reduce jams.

Material catching on perforations, envelope seams, or glassine – Perforated stock can separate unexpectedly or stack poorly, causing jams. Envelope seams can cause the material to hang up as it is pushed into the envelope. Switching from vertical seams to diagonal can fix the issue. Glassine that isn’t sealed all the way around can prevent the material from entering the envelope smoothly. Work with material suppliers to correct the problems.

Warping, curling, and rippling - Humidity change is a major problem. Paper warps when the moisture content changes. Glue can liquefy or harden. Store paper products in a climate-controlled room and rotate the stock. Acclimatize paper and envelopes planned for the next day's use by moving them into the production room the day before.

Stock Shortages

Migrate to a white paper printing workflow to reduce reliance on pre-printed forms and delays caused by insufficient inventory. Install inline envelope manufacturing equipment, which can erase wait times for custom envelopes, or change to a common outbound envelope (see below).

Job Changeovers

Common Envelope - Advancements in inkjet technology now make it possible to print the return address on outbound envelopes right on the inserting equipment. Full color images in 600 dpi make this a viable option that can enable companies to eliminate some job changeovers. Switching to generic double-window envelopes may also reduce the number of times operators must change the material in the envelope hopper of an inserting machine.

Inserts - Eliminating reply envelopes for applications where most payments or donations are collected online can remove the need to swap return envelopes on every job. Printing marketing and regulatory notices on the documents instead of pre-printed inserts will also reduce the time required between jobs to unload/reload insert feeders and reduce the number of times supervisors must sign-off on new set-ups before the next inserting job can be started.

Eliminate Excess Pages

Reformat the print by slightly reducing font size, narrowing margins, or altering line-spacing to trim statement page counts. Print summary information with instructions to download details from an online portal. Suppress accounts with no activity or zero balances if this is allowed. Fewer pages printed and inserted improves throughput and reduces cost.

To read Mike's piece on 10 hidden things that could be affecting your productivity, click here.

Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants, a firm that helps document centers operate efficiently today and prepare for the business challenges of tomorrow. Visit and sign up for Practical Stuff – a free newsletter featuring tips, trends, and commentary of interest to customer communication professionals.