A New Approach to Mail
Though most in-house mail operations have eliminated mail delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, one in-plant has found a safe way to continue delivering first class mail right on schedule. Calvin University Printing Services, in Grand Rapids, Mich., is opening and scanning first class mail then emailing it to the recipient.
“Our printing volume is way down, but the staff still needs to be there,” remarks Rick DeVries, associate director for IT Business Services. “The goal is to reduce the need for people to come onto campus. We notified people ahead of time that we would be doing this and assured them that professional staff who regularly handle confidential information would be the only ones opening the mail.”
Though the in-plant had not been scanning mail prior to COVID-19, the shop’s two employees adapted quickly to the process. They use a Ricoh Pro 8100 EX to scan the mail. DeVries says it takes a couple of minutes to open each piece, remove staples and paperclips, and look up the recipient's email address.
“Once a piece has been scanned and emailed, we mark on the outside of the envelope the date/time it was processed, and it is returned to the department's mail bin for later delivery,” notes DeVries. “If a mail piece is marked ‘personal’ or ‘confidential’ we do not open it and notify the recipient by email. They have the choice for us to hold it for pickup or we will forward it to their home address.”
The response from customers, he says, has been positive.
“We did get several requests for customized service: ‘I don't want mail from vendor X, just throw it away.’ We are not able to provide that kind of custom service; we process all first class mail the same for everyone,” he says.
Standard and business mail, as well as packages, are being held for pickup in the central mail room. A plexiglass shield has been installed at the service counter, with an opening for packages, to reduce contact.
Related story: The Value of Mailing Services to In-plants
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.