Automated sorting equipment has streamlined mail sorting in the UK, but not without creating many challenges for Royal Mail, especially when processing card products such as poll cards.
At Smith & Ouzman we are currently working with Royal Mail to help them resolve these problems without changing the unit cost of the poll card product, thereby minimising the impact of change upon local authorities.
Two issues that cause rejections of poll cards within the feeding and sorting processes are the flat nature of card material and the dual address format printed on the face of the cards.
Sorting equipment is designed to deal with an envelope, something which contains air and as such is easily gripped and separated by the equipment feeders. Poll cards are flat, contain no air and are much harder for the equipment to grip and process. An additional problem is that most poll card providers use a guillotining process that causes fibre crossover which can result in multiple feeds or jams in the automated sorting machines.
Smith & Ouzman has designed an innovative process which removes any risk of fibre crossover to combat multiple feeds and jams. We are also testing a solution that introduces air between individual cards after cutting, but before final packaging.
The second issue that causes problems with successful poll card delivery is two addresses. The typical UK poll card design carries two addresses on the front, the polling address on the left and the delivery address on the right, which can confuse the sorting equipment and cause rejections.
In an attempt to improve address identification and reduce rejection, new layouts of the poll cards incorporating clear zones are being reviewed by Royal Mail, and we will adopt these recommendations when finalised.
We regard working closely with Royal Mail to resolve such issues as a vital part of establishing a clearer understanding of our clients’ requirements that will ensure that we deliver trouble free mail-pieces and on-time mailings.