Mailing Innovations Customer Profile
 
Summary
Mailing Innovations integrated SwiftView to enable its customers to easily augment and inspect their PCL files and automate mailing machines.

The Company
Mailing Innovations was founded in 1983 as a supplier of affordable, flexible, high-performance mail handling solutions.   The company studies technologies and machines around the world and handpicks systems that help businesses cut costs, increase efficiency, and boost profits.  MI's support services include training customers in their own mailrooms, at no additional cost.  To assure the greatest benefit from automated mailing equipment, MI also develops automation software, e.g., to apply bar codes to control operation of mailing equipment like paper folders and envelope stuffers.

The Challenge
Automating "variable data" is an ongoing challenge to mailing service providers.  Even in the simplest mass mailings, there is a variable address; however, most mailings are much more complex than this.  In billing statements, for example, there is tremendous variability in the content of the bill or statement, which affects the number of printed pages.   Because there are limits to how many pages can be placed in an envelope, automation must split or divert these statements.

Mailing Innovations serves companies with internal mailing services, and also serves many outsourced mailing providers.   MI's StreetSweeper family of products presorts mail to make it easy for customers to benefit from an automated mailroom, extracting name and address, sorting, selectively printing, and stuffing envelopes.  MI needed to provide tools to post-process finished PCL variable data (VDP) print jobs for efficient insertion and cost-effective mailing presort.

The Solution
MI began searching for a PCL viewer when they started developing indoc.s.  Indoc.s provides an easy-to-use interface that: adds optical marks that tell the insertion machine how many pages to insert in an envelope, adds insertion codes, augments and repairs addresses, and sorts PCL variable data print (VDP) output files.

"I found SwiftView in 2001 after a lengthy search on the internet through similar products," says Ross McKenzie, director of software development at Mailing Innovations.  "The three key features that we required were: first, the ability to handle large documents, second, the ability to accurately present a print stream onscreen, and third, the product's programmable characteristics.  We had to be able to handle really large print files - 100,000 pages and more.  This was actually the first thing that separated SwiftView from other similar type products, which could handle 10 - 20,000-page files, but not files with 50,000 or more pages.  Of course, SwiftView also set itself apart with its accurate viewing and great ease of programming."

SwiftView's easy-to-use interface was very important.  "The main reason for using a viewer in our product is to let users display a print stream to see what the form looks like on-screen," says McKenzie.  "It had to look good and be easy to use, or it would not be any easier for novice users - that's important because, when it prints, we want them to see that it's an exact replication of what they see on screen."

MI also knew the importance of SwiftView's extreme ease of programmability.  "Instead of developing it ourselves, we were able to purchase a program object," says McKenzie.  "It would have been impossible to do this application within a reasonable time or cost frame ourselves."  As a result, indoc.s is heavily reliant on SwiftView, particularly its markup and DLL technology.  "We are using SwiftView as an embedded product, accessed via DLL calls using SwiftView's easy-to-program ICS (API) commands," says McKenzie.  "We make extensive use of ICS commands as well as markups."

Other SwiftView functions have also proven themselves.  "When we first encountered SwiftView, we were developing an application to help customers see what was going on," says McKenzie.  "But SwiftView's combination of markup capabilities, PCL analysis and fast, accurate printing also allowed us to add powerful features.  Indoc.s can extract text, such as addresses, from locations identified interactively through SwiftView's UI, then process the text externally with StreetSweeper, and add it back to the document for final printing by SwiftView.  Indoc.s can display PCL files and let customers add markups of various kinds, then print the results.  Markups in the form of 2, 5, or 8 horizontal lines (bar codes) are added to control the use of automatic folding and envelope inserting machines.  These markups, selectively added to each page, drive the insertion machine by telling it how many pages to put in each envelope."

Results
Although the mail service market is mature, it still remains highly profitable.  As a result, finding methods to uncover cost savings and improve productivity and efficiency distinguishes leading vendors.  MI's indoc.s software can improve insertion methods for mail services and provide substantial cost savings.

MI's indoc.s quickly showed its worth by saving customers money.  The simple task of automating how many pages get inserted into an envelope can result in dramatic savings on postage.  For example, customers that bill daily can cut postage in half by combining daily bills and billing every other day, while those billing many times a day can save even more by billing once a day.  Indoc.s makes it easy to combine two or more bills and insert all into one envelope.  "We have customers that save over $50,000/year in postage," says McKenzie.

Indoc.s also helps customers reduce labor costs and "do the impossible."  "Every insertion machine has a limit to the number of pages it can put in an envelope," says McKenzie.  "When a bill or statement exceeds the page limit, instead of letting it jam the machine, we can divert that one customer's bill to a special printer.  And it's easy to automatically pull out pages by account number to create a list that gets special handling, e.g., courier delivery or express mail.  The software simply makes everything more efficient, and enables things that would be too labor intensive without it.  For instance, to pull the special list, people would have to manually go through the all the invoices and pull the special cases out by hand.  There simply is no good physical way to do what this software can do - it would be very inefficient and highly error-prone."

MI sees other opportunities to integrate SwiftView products in order to deliver cost savings to customers outside the bulk mail market.  MI has begun testing SwiftPublish as a way to help more general users get non-PCL Windows documents into MI systems.  SwiftPublish is a very easy to use tool that lets people capture documents from any Windows software while also capturing the original document's full textual data for searching, extraction and analysis with the SwiftView viewer.   As such, it is effectively an "anything to PCL" converter.  SwiftPublish also solves the printer matching concern because it uses the PCL driver and print settings of the user's actual office printer.  By increasing its products' ease of use, MI foresees being able to reach beyond the traditional insertion business.

"We are delighted at the ease with which we were able to integrate SwiftView into our product, and the great things it has enabled our customers to do - or better yet, not have to do," says McKenzie.  "Our SwiftView-integrated products save our customers money and have in many cases dramatically improved their productivity or processes.  Moreover, we anticipate being able to reach out to new markets thanks to SwiftView's technology."



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