At a conference on Friday, 10th October Domino and Royal Mail joined forces to demonstrate how the postal service company’s new Mailmark option can provide mail users with a high level of management information through online reporting. Hosted at Domino HQ (Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire), the event provided the ideal platform for guests to better understand the important function Mailmark now offers the mailing industry.
“Mailmarkrepresents the next step in mailing innovation, with the code able to unlock many possibilities” explains Steve Taylor, Sales Manager at Domino. “The aim of the conference was to show Mailmark’s potential, as well as the key role that Domino plays as an accredited supplier in the Mailmark programme.”
Illustrating Mailmark’s key features and benefits, as well as the technology employed for the creation of the new code, were Greg Noble (Customer Take-on Lead for the Mailmark Programme), Neil Fleming-Smith (Managing Director, Mosaic Online Systems) and Darren Crawford (Group IT Director, GI Solutions).
What is Mailmark?
Mailmark technology employs the use of a 2D matrix code that encrypts postal data and offers users web-based reporting from an online analytics dashboard. Once the code has been scanned, customers can access detailed consignment level reports on predicted delivery, volume and performance as well as error reporting down to the item level.
Designed for high volume mail orders and available to retail and wholesale customers at no extra cost from Royal Mail, Mailmark technology meets the needs of companies and organisations that produce millions of letters on an annual basis.
Greg Noble explains how this new introduction affects Royal Mail customers: “By adding a Mailmark barcode to each letter in your mailing, you are able to track the consignment from the moment it is accepted at a mail centre through to when it is processed for delivery. Details are entered into online reports that can be accessed by Royal Mail customers with relative ease – we view it as a way of putting you in control of your mail.”
Noble continues: “The Mailmark option requires that mail producers provide data to Royal Mail electronically and that they print high quality datamatrices on to each mailpiece. That’s where Domino’s digital printing solutions come into play.”
Domino first approached Royal Mail at a technology suppliers conference hosted by the postal service company back in June 2014. Greg Noble explains: “We were aware that Domino supplies coding and marking and digital printing technologies for the mailing industry, and were keen for the company to develop a Mailmark compatible solution. They went one step further and put forward two.”
The first of these solutions, the K600i, is a high resolution, single colour modular ink jet system designed for printing variable data items, such as barcodes and transactional data. Incorporating Piezo Drop on Demand (DOD) ink jet technology, the machine is ideal for printing on one-piece mail, including cards, leaflets, vouchers and direct mail flyers.
“As the system’s print head needs to be placed no more than 2mm away from the printing line, the K600i will be able to print the Mailmark barcode on flat items but will not be suitable for uneven surfaces,” explains Domino’s Taylor. “For those type of applications, the Bitjet+ is a more suitable option.”
An in-line digital printer with a small footprint, Bitjet is Domino’s popular binary technology developed to provide high speed, consistent printing that can be easily integrated into new and existing production lines. With a print resolution ranging from 60 to 240 dpi and the ability to print variable data up to 800m/min, the system is employed for the delivery of QR codes, 2D codes and IM bar codes for postal regulations.
While Bitjet’s versatility also makes it ideal for printing on one-piece mail, it was its unusual ability to print code onto non-pourous substrates - especially polythene - that makes the printer an ideal solution for Mailmark barcodes.
“A considerable number of mail items are wrapped in polythene, such as magazines or certain types of parcels, which means our customers needed a solution that would be capable of printing the Mailmark barcodes on this material,” explains Taylor. “Not many printing systems can deliver this. Domino’s Bitjet is one of the very few exceptions.”
Domino is also aware that mailing houses using outdated technology will not be able to print the new 2D code, but a solution has already been put forward for this issue: “For the mailing houses that aren’t equipped to print this new type of code, Domino will offer to trade both the Bitjet and K600i for old technologies, in order to allow a smooth transition” reveals Taylor.
Royal Mail’s Greg Noble concludes: “The conference has provided a great opportunity for mailing houses and users to not only familiarise themselves with Mailmark technology, but also understand how it can benefit their business. Better understanding of both the software and the hardware, including the variable printing requirements, will give mailing houses more confidence and expertise in implementing the provision of this service to their end users.”