Spending on technologies and services that enable the digital transformation (DX) of businesses approached the $2 trillion mark in 2022, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC). One of the best places for an organization to jumpstart its DX is its mailroom — the main point of entry for documents. An inordinate number of documents still arrive at the office in paper form, making mailrooms one of the most manual-intensive areas of most corporations. That’s because most physical mailroom “silos” operate outdated, inefficient workflows. Corporate mailrooms are responsible for much of the incoming and outbound messaging between an organization and its customers, suppliers, regulatory authorities, and other entities. Yes, some of that communication has transitioned to electronic delivery, but most companies still process a healthy volume of physical mail every day. “On-premise mailrooms are slow, error prone and require too much labor and valuable real estate,” contends David Winkler, a contributor to Entrepreneur.com. “Not to mention [that] they simply cannot support today's ‘new world of work.’” Due to such inefficiencies, companies lose between 20% and 30% in annual revenue, IDC reports. Outdated manual mail processing procedures can have a negative effect on high visibility corporate objectives like customer experience and regulatory compliance. An emphasis on automation and new technologies, combined with changes prompted by remote and hybrid workplace environments, are encouraging companies to seek better ways of dealing with incoming mail. Automation in the mailroom means taking some of the human-based decision-making, routing, transporting, and tracking tasks associated with inbound mail and assigning them to specialized hardware and software. Automation allows the mailroom to process more mail with fewer employees while simultaneously speeding delivery. Tritek’s Digital Mail Solution Digital mail delivery converts incoming paper mail into digital form. Instead of waiting for once-a-day courier delivery of physical mail items, employees can receive documents at their workstations electronically. Recognizing the popularity of a modern mobile workforce, a digital mail system delivers mail to employees whether their office is on site, at a satellite location, at home, or on the road. An automated solution such as this creates a digital record tracking the progress and documenting the history and delivery method for each mail piece. With the simplest form of incoming mail automation, known as advance notification, employees receive an email with a link to the digital image of each physical mail piece addressed to them. Advance notification will inform employees about the physical mail they will receive hours before the corporate mailroom delivers it. With the next level of automation, employees decide on the disposition of each of their mail pieces. They can choose to have the piece scanned and emailed to them, have it physically delivered, or ask the mailroom to destroy it. The Tritek Oasis sorter can scan up to 10,000 pieces per hour in this manner, with a single operator. Watch a short video about Tritek’s Oasis email delivery solution here. Our Digital Mail Solutions According to the Rule Book Companies regularly receive mail they must always handle in a certain way. The Tritek digital mail system uses rules to process those pieces automatically by identifying them during the scanning operation. Bill payments, for instance, may always be sent to Accounts Receivable, orders might be scanned and emailed to Fulfillment. At an insurance company, some documents may go to Underwriting while others to Claims Processing. Processing mail using the Tritek Rules Editor software decreases the need for individual employees to make piece-by-piece decisions about how to handle the mail. Some rules might cover situations such as: Which types of mail are always opened, scanned, and routed electronically by mail center staff? What mail stays sealed and forwarded to the addressee? How is marketing mail handled? Tackling Today’s Business Challenges Automated incoming mail handling solves three problems for businesses. The risk associated with the organization’s reliance on key mailroom employees. Most mailrooms still manually delivering mail rely on key staffers who know the employees working in each department. Their memories help them distribute mail accurately to an individual when it comes addressed to a predecessor in the employee’s department. This knowledge is often augmented with sticky tabs or a notebook full of hand-written instructions. Delivering time-sensitive documents to a remote or semi-remote workforce. COVID-19 changed the corporate landscape for lots of companies. They have either embraced the concept of remote or hybrid workplaces or grudgingly accepted remote working as a factor necessary for attracting and retaining the most talented workers. But they still need to facilitate efficient communication throughout the organization. Staffing shortages in the mailroom. In many companies, vacancies in the mailroom have been difficult to fill. Automating inbound mail reduces the amount of tedious manual work, allowing organizations to reallocate talent or operate the department with a lower headcount. Automation is the Answer Corporate mailrooms are the lifeblood of their organizations. They play a critical role in company operations, contributing to key company goals like improving the customer experience and complying with regulations. The growing trend of remote and hybrid work environments makes incoming mail distribution more challenging, prompting mailrooms to embrace technologies and automation to keep pace. Tritek Technologies has offered their patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency to companies since 1984. The Tritek Mail Forwarding System works with a variety of Tritek equipment, allowing companies to choose the solution size that best meets their needs to deliver important documents to their employees, regardless of where they work. Tritek’s family of mail center automation solutions includes inbound mail sorting, imaging and archiving of mailed documents, parcel sorting, digital mail delivery, and the industry-leading Correct Elect Vote-By-Mail technology. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Related Resources: Getting Inbound Mail to the Right Place (the first time) How to Digitally Deliver Incoming Mail How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations
Will mailroom robotics someday route the mail? While the short answer is, “probably not anytime soon,” the reality is that, in the not-too-distant future, robots could play a role in routing or delivering employee mail at corporate mailrooms. Industrial robots have already made inroads within several industries, including some aspects of postal mail production and distribution. Back in 2011, ADM Automation rolled out its iCart material-handling vehicle capable of operating around a mailroom without an operator. (The AGV device is distributed by mailing equipment provider Kern.) Five years ago, FedEx Corp. began using Savioke’s (now Relay Robotics) autonomous, mobile-delivery robots to essentially take the place of mailroom clerks. However, the slick tech has yet to go fully mainstream. Some manufacturers already deploy automated robotics to feed mail trays and pallets. Ricoh and Starship Technologies teamed up at the MAILCOM ’19 trade show to explore what it would take to use and service robots in mail, distribution, fulfillment, and warehouse applications. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, mail fulfillment and parcel shipments have grown. Just think about all the online shopping orders delivered in the past three years that required boxes with shipping labels. Companies are looking for ways to handle the increased volumes without adding to the staff. Though they don’t need sick days and benefits which make them attractive alternatives, don't expect mechanical workers to replace your corporate mail center employees tomorrow. That said, most mail centers could do with some automation, and some of the available technology is impressive. Time = $ “The old adage that ‘time is money in business’ has never been truer,” says Jack Noonan, VP of business development at the PRINTING United Alliance trade association. The time to money ratio is where high-speed sorting from firms such as Tritek Technologies comes into play. (Noonan once ran a company in Central Florida that used Tritek’s sorters.) Economies of scale apply to high-volume mailers in vertical markets such as financial/insurance, governments (think vote by mail during the recent election cycle), healthcare/pharma, and higher education. “If you’re responsible for millions or billions of pieces of mail, a lot of money stands to be lost if operations don’t run as efficiently as possible,” he notes. “People are trying to get [save] fractions of pennies on each piece.” Tritek’s lineup of sorting equipment and software is also beneficial to organizations with smaller volumes. Those entities can choose small footprint solutions that solve their mail distribution challenges without occupying a tremendous portion of their limited office space. For the ultimate in space-saving mail solutions, check out the Tritek Mobile Ace Workstation. “Streamlining the feeding and finishing processes is key to preparing today’s mail pieces for shipment, distribution and delivery,” adds Noonan, who spent 10 years working with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on the Intelligent Mail Barcode. A self-described “Post Office geek,” he is very familiar with related mailing technologies, such as Tritek’s intuitive software and its corresponding algorithms. This technology offers ways to automate traditionally manual operations for in-plant mailrooms, such as sorting inbound mail to courier routes according to business rules and current employee locations. Automating Inbound Mail Tritek’s digital mail delivery solutions aren’t mechanical robots, but they can solve part of the mail-forwarding dilemma when it comes to relocated employees or those working remotely. Automated digital mail delivery is the answer. With digital delivery, mail center staff opens employee mail when instructed, scans it, and then forwards PDFs to the addressee’s email. Digital mail delivery gets inbound mail to the intended recipients faster and less expensively than manual delivery via a courier crew. Vote by Mail Tritek’s ballot processing solutions feature patented vote-by-mail technology. Our vote-by-mail solutions are built to meet each municipalities’ specific requirements according to floor space consideration, volume fluctuations, and types of ballot designs. Our Correct Elect technology is proven at county election offices, nationwide. We hold the exclusive patent on the ballot method and apparatus to provide a full audit trail, ballot process management, and status reporting. Learn More About Mail Processing Automation: Mailroom Automation to The Rescue for Businesses How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations How The Role of Corporate Mailrooms is Changing
Recently, many businesses have determined that investing in mailroom equipment, software, and labor may not be in the best interest of the organization. This has prompted a renewed interest in outsourcing mail center operations. Several forces are at work. Declining mail volumes, a dispersed workforce, and labor shortages have contributed to the trend. At the same time, postage rates are escalating and rules for entering mail are increasingly complex. Moreover, mail center managers are being asked to support a level of hygiene that is virtually impossible when everything you touch comes from places and people you do not know. Insurance companies are good at insurance. Real estate companies are good at real estate. Law firms are good at law. They are not experts in mail operations or USPS regulations. Mail service providers are experts in all things mail. Your goal when outsourcing mail processing is to find a provider that offers the breadth and depth of services necessary to support your organization. The Big Picture You do not need to be a postal expert to realize that the landscape of mailing has changed in the past 20 years. Just look in your mailbox. There is not much in there. Bills are sent and paid on the internet. While less effective, email advertising is cheaper than marketing mail. If mail centers are not sending much outbound mail and not receiving much inbound mail, you do not need much of a mail center. Mail Centers Evolving to Small Parcel Centers While mail is declining, parcel shipping is increasing. From 2015 to 2021, mail volume declined from 154 billion pieces per year to 129 billion pieces per year. During that time, the USPS’ revenues increased from $69 billion to $77 billion.1 The increase is attributed to parcel and Priority Mail shipping. It is plausible that parcel processing will be more significant than letters for corporate mail departments. This is not the death knell of postal mail. 129 billion pieces must still be delivered. Many businesses will maintain a “service center” for shipping, copies, and office supplies. However, companies looking to optimize mail handling should consider handing off mail processing to a service provider. Your Mail Center Does Not Have to Be Your Mail Center Outsourcing involves just moving your mail center from your building to someone else’s building. Someone that knows the postal process and can provide a level of service to accomplish your goals. Service providers are vested in current technology to deliver benefits not usually found in corporate mail centers. Outsource with Tritek Biohazard Protection As pathogens, viruses, and biohazards can be distributed through the mail stream, mail handlers find it necessary to institute safety measures and controls to evade these dangers. The Postal Service and OSHA guidelines recommend that mailroom operations have secondary engineering controls as a part of the daily workflow. Most corporate mail centers do not have these precautions. But service providers do. Digital Email Delivery Digital email delivery has been a viable technology for a decade, but its popularity has been limited. That is no longer the case. Remote work is the new normal, and teams without the right technology struggle to stay on top of their mail from home. Digital email delivery solves this predicament. This is a simplified explanation of how digital mail delivery works: The corporate mail center receives an envelope from a client addressed to Sally. The mail center staff opens the envelope, extracts and scans the contents, and emails the information to Sally. Sally opens the email on her phone or laptop, reads the letter, and responds. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Multiply this scenario by thousands of inbound letters every day. Clearly, mail centers would need technology beyond a mail opener and a scanner from the office supply store. The investment in technology and the implementation costs are beyond the scope of most corporate mail centers but digital delivery is within the reach of mail service providers. They can amortize the investment over several clients. Returned Mail Management The USPS returns outbound mail for several reasons, but the most common cause is inaccurate delivery addresses. The cost to a company is staggering. Experts estimate the operational cost at $25 per item.2 This does not include the “consequence cost.” When a bill sent to a client is returned because of an address error, the invoice remains unpaid until the biller corrects the address. Once corrected, the bill must be re-printed and remailed, and the remittance returned. What does that do to cash flow? Multiply that scenario by several thousand returned bills. That is the “consequence cost.” Mail service providers help with address correction and returned mail reduction. Implementation Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes Biohazard Screening, Digital Email Delivery, Database Management, Returned Mail Processing, Inbound Mail, Presorted Mail, and Parcel Processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Let us be your new mailroom. View Related Articles: The Future of Mailroom Automation for Businesses How You Can Use One Machine for every Mailing Operation Solving Corporate Inbound Mail Challenges 1 https://facts.usps.com/table-facts/ 2 https://mailingsystemstechnology.com/article-4640-Report-The-Cost-of-Returned-Mail.html
Digital mail delivery has been a viable technology for a decade, but its popularity has been limited. That is no longer the case. Remote work is the new normal, and teams without the right technology struggle to stay on top of their mail when working from home, at the office, or somewhere else. Digital mail delivery fixes this predicament. As with any new technology, companies have more than one level of implementation from which to choose. To meet today’s demands, organizations must establish a digital mail platform that meets the level of security required, addresses privacy, and follows internal business rules. Digital Mail: The Basics Digital mail delivery is a postal mail and scanning process that converts incoming paper mail into digital form. The digital mail system delivers documents to the addressees electronically. The system creates a digital record of each incoming mail piece, tracking the progress, history, and delivery method. Employees receive an email with a link to the digital image of the physical mail piece. Organizations can digitize mail and automate indexing, classification, and distribution. Digital Mail: The Rules The COVID health threat changed business operations forever. Instantly, most employees were transient. They could not receive mail. Other than pushing mail out to a regional, traveling sales staff, it never occurred to mail center managers to have a corporate-wide mail distribution plan in place. Today, companies must have a plan to deal with postal mail and parcels addressed to employees that will most likely stay remote at least part of the time. These are considerations when formalizing a mail distribution plan: • What classes or types of mail are opened by mail center staff? • What mail stays sealed and forwarded to the addressee? • How is marketing mail handled? • How are “accountable items” handled? This includes certified mail, registered mail, and overnight or two-day documents delivered by the common carriers. Are these decisions entirely up to the addressee, or do corporate mandates take precedence? One-Pass Digital Mail Option The single-pass digital mail option notifies employees of the number of mail pieces they receive each day. If they are on-site, workers make arrangements to pick up their mail or organize delivery to where the worker is located. With mail center downsizing, daily delivery may no longer be an option. It makes little sense to deploy a delivery person when few employees receive mail each day. A worker on the 14th floor or the other side of campus may wait until enough mail has accumulated to warrant a visit to the mail center. However, that brings up more questions. How long is mail saved before the mail center discards it? How many notifications must be made? Is there an escalation procedure if the addressee does not respond? Formal rules that everyone understands need to be in place. Watch a short video about Tritek’s Oasis email delivery solution here. Two-Pass Digital Mail Option With the two-pass digital mail option, employees receive scanned images of the outside of each mail piece. The addressee determines the disposition of each mail piece. These options include: 1. The mail piece is opened and scanned by mail center personnel and emailed to the addressee. 2. The mail piece is delivered to the addresses or held for pick up. 3. The mail piece is tagged for recycling. 4. Or some combination of the three options. On its face, the process appears simple. Multiply this scenario by thousands of inbound letters every day. Depending on the organization, mail distribution can be a formidable task. Clearly, technology beyond a mail opener and an office supply store scanner is needed. Implementation For the two-pass digital mail option, companies have two choices. The first is to do it yourself. Mail center staff operates a workstation that automatically opens the envelope, extracts the contents, and places them on the scanner. The worker chooses the recipient and emails the contents of the envelope. The software makes most of this process happen, or the organization relies on mailroom worker knowledge. The investment in software varies depending on the functions you need. The second way is using an outside service. The central part of implementing a digital mail delivery system is not the hardware or the software. It is the process. It is what to do and when to do it. It is about governance and the administration of business rules. Third-party services have the expertise needed for digital mail implementation. Working in concert with your current mail center staff, you will realize the benefits of digital mail delivery. Execution Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek’s expanding menu of mail services includes Biohazard Screening, Digital Email Delivery, Database Management, Returned Mail Processing, Inbound Mail, Presorted Mail, and Parcel Processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Digital Mail Delivery Solutions For those organizations that prefer to handle incoming mail themselves, Tritek supplies the hardware and software that automates much of the process for a one-pass or two-pass solution. Learn More About Digital Mail Delivery Digitally Deliver Incoming Mail Why Your Business Needs to Digitalize Mail Delivery How to Keep Up With Employee Mail Delivery WFH Employees Ask “Where’s My Mail?