Transactional Mail Industry Outlook
Transactional mail production has long relied on systems and processes that have historically evolved slowly. But with the advancement of technology, facilities are now able to make great improvements in production efficiency, with inserters and other equipment able to process mail pieces at speeds greater than ever. The industry continues to chase production efficiency, and these solutions are often the way to improve those metrics.
While the equipment itself has become more advanced and utilizes sophisticated tools to better track and process mail, facilities are still reliant on two main resources: paper and labor. Without treading too deep into topics we’ve discussed before, it’s well known that paper shortages have led to increased costs of supplies. Finding and retaining qualified and efficient equipment operators is also an ongoing challenge within the industry.
Do More With Less
Our mantra at Bell and Howell has long been “Do More with Less”. Becoming more efficient with the equipment and solutions already owned is a big part of what our teams focus on as they work with Bell and Howell customers each day.
Earle Painter, head of Bell and Howell’s Heritage Production Mail Business, sees paper shortages easing off at some point in the back half of 2023. Systems like the Bell and Howell Producer offer incredible flexibility within a small footprint and provide enhanced material handling features and a true work cell environment. Highly configurable and efficient inserters like the Producer will continue to allow organizations to be able to do more with less, both in today’s climate and beyond.
Continuing to Adapt
The good news is that when these temporary supply limitations are eventually over, transactional mail facilities will still be operating similarly to how they are now. Production floors will still be chasing higher thruput and continue to look at high-speed solutions as the biggest way to combat the gradual rise in prices and labor costs.
In the meantime, tools like Bell and Howell’s IQ Software Suite can help monitor, track, and predict job and operator efficiency to help maximize productivity and lower overall costs. The IQ Software Suite is a hugely beneficial collection of tools that production managers can use to improve how their floors are run. “When you consider that our tools analyze efficiency against different jobs and operators and help managers easily visualize that operator’s efficiency, this allows for the introduction of pay-for-performance structures,” Earle states.
These tools allow greater, highly valuable production data that can be instrumental in ensuring that best-performing operators are rewarded for their successes. This could be a great way to raise employee satisfaction and retain a highly valuable and skilled workforce. What if you could increase productivity by 15-20% per machine and eliminate the need for investing in another costly system? With IQ Metrics allowing advanced job tracking and efficiency details, making improvements like this is easier than ever. Often production standards and improved performance measuring is the key to success and not necessarily the additional piece of equipment.
Another decision that impacts employer retention is a larger focus on operator training. Giving those that manage and operate equipment the skillsets and resources is imperative to safeguarding that not only are they more inclined to stick with a job, but also fostering a more efficient and productive team. Bell and Howell has put a ton of effort into our training programs, not only for our own technicians but for customers as well. Our Train-the-Trainer program is specifically designed to instruct our customers’ trainers so that they can be valuable internal resources for their organization’s own equipment operators. You can learn more about that program, here.
While the tightening the industry has caused some uncertainty, what should be reiterated is that Bell and Howell has all the tools you need to get through these challenges and excel once more normal operations return. To learn more about our newest lower-cost high-speed entry into our inserter product line, check out our High-Speed VIP here.
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