Excellus BCBS Named Mail Center of the Year
As if winning Best of Show in the In-Print 2015 contest wasn’t enough, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Document Services was also awarded the 2015 IPMA Mail Center of the Year Award at the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association conference in June. It was the second time the Rochester, N.Y., in-plant has received this award, which recognizes a mail center that has made outstanding improvements in new technology, cost savings and processes.
Document Services employs a team of 20 diverse employees who together provide a full mailing service for Excellus Health Plan, Inc. and its subsidiaries. The mail center carries out vital tasks such as bar code sorting, inserting automated and manual transactional materials and processing shipping materials. In addition, the team runs an off-site fulfillment warehouse that supplies print materials that have been ordered online.
“In 2014, the mail center staff processed and mailed over 24 million mail pieces,” says Document Services Corporate Director Catherine Ciardi. With such a high volume of mail passing through the mail center on a daily basis, the team is always seeking practical ways to improve mail room production and streamline working processes. In 2014, they set about improving the speed and efficiency of the mail center by installing new technology and upgraded older technology to help it run more smoothly.
Document Services installed a new Pitney Bowes MailStream Evolution inserter, and was rewarded with a much more efficient operation. Among the improvements:
- Staff can now use 6x9˝ envelopes for half-fold transactional materials of more than eight pages, increasing the number of pages that can be mailed at letter rate from eight to 16—a savings of $0.50 on each piece over the cost to mail them at flat rate.
- Collateral material such as booklets and calendars can be inserted in-line and mailed alongside transactional materials.
- Flat materials up to 0.25˝ thick can be manually inserted into 9x12˝ or 10x13˝ envelopes more easily. Staff can now switch from letter insert mode to flat insert mode in as little as 10 minutes. So the insertion of 1,500 pieces can be done in a single hour, as opposed to requiring 16 hours of manual work.
- Insertion is now much quicker, with a capacity of 50,000 sheets at 14,000 envelopes per hour, compared to the previous figure of 22,000 sheets at 7,000 envelopes per hour.
Before the installation of a Pitney Bowes EZ-Flats sorter, there was no capacity for pre-sorting flat mailing material in-house. The new equipment made it easy to pre-sort all flat transactional materials, in addition to automatically producing all the necessary USPS documentation. The new installation resulted in $44,957 savings on postal costs.
By installing a Pitney Bowes Print+ Messenger color inkjet system, names and addresses can be printed on envelopes in-line with the insertion process of the MailStream Evolution. By reading a variable data file, it can add custom messages or graphics to each envelope. Staff can now plan out, design and preview each job before commencing. The addition of an ink estimator means that staff can see how much a job is likely to cost before starting.
By adding Pitney Bowes Business Insight software, management can now review the insertion process in real time, check mail integrity and prevent missing pieces in transactional mailings.
The Document Services team also retrofitted some existing equipment, like the APS Inserter. Installing a moving beam scanner and 2D camera allow for better reading of 2x5˝ linear barcodes. Consolidating the existing three postage meters into one meter freed up floor space, saving the mail center $3,000 a year in postage meter rental costs.
These upgrades and others have allowed Document Services to handle more mail, more efficiently than ever. From faster insertions to dynamic printing to mail verification, the overhaul has given the mail center a boost, resulting in faster processes, significant reductions in manual labor and an impressive $90,000 in postage savings.
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