By Cassandra Balentine
Mailing and fulfillment operations benefit from the latest technologies. Innovations in barcode reading technologies, improved usability, heightened speed, and solutions for variability, enable businesses to improve the productivity and efficiency of mailing operations.
Founded in 1911, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) houses a Vision Rehabilitation Center of Excellence that provides vision rehabilitation services to people who are blind or visually impaired throughout the Greater Rochester, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier areas of NY.
The association’s mission is to help individuals achieve their goals after a diagnosis of significant visual impairment or blindness. “We do this in two ways,” says John Ross, shipping and receiving manager, ABVI. “Our vision rehabilitation services are designed from a person-centered approach to assist people in adapting everyday activities. We also provide the opportunity through training and skill development to engage in meaningful work,” he adds.
As part of its work, ABVI empowers those with vision loss to engage in fulfilling careers by offering a variety of entrepreneurial businesses, including a state-of-the-art contact center, manufacturing and fulfillment services, and food service and catering.
ABVI’s manufacturing and fulfillment services division relies on the latest in mailing technologies to help achieve this goal.
The association’s mail center provides employment opportunities for individuals with visual impairments. To ensure success, it remains up to date with the latest technologies.
The department handles approximately 10,000 pieces of mail per month, with peak mailing days or months. Ross notes that when they fulfill a one-time mailing project, it can sometimes double that volume.
To handle these volumes, ABVI’s mailing and fulfillment center installed the Pitney Bowes Connect+ mailing system this January. “We upgraded to the Connect+ mailing system for several reasons, including flexible configuration, greater processing capabilities and speed, and to reduce errors,” says Ross.
He says one of the more significant benefits they’ve noticed since the installation are the configuration options, which allow a 15-inch display screen. “Not only is it bigger, but it is brighter and we can customize it for each worker to best fit their abilities,” he explains. “The color and contrast setting make a world of difference to anyone with special vision needs.”
Since installing the system, Ross reports a significant improvement in processing speed, which enables ABVI to take on more jobs and provide opportunities for more individuals that are visually impaired.
The association also reports a measurable reduction in errors. “This not only helps us better serve our customers with more accurate mailings, but also reduces costs from wasted materials and time,” says Ross. “Overall, the Connect+ mailing system has really helped our organization make the work in the fulfillment services area more accessible to more individuals who are visually impaired.”
Ross says the transition from the department’s old Pitney Bowes system to the new Connect+ mailing system was easy. Pitney Bowes provides onsite training and showed the department many of the device’s features and capabilities. In addition, the company worked directly with the association’s IT department to overcome any technical issues integrating the system into the network.
“After installation and onsite training was complete, the Pitney Bowes service team was very responsive to any follow up questions or concerns we had,” says Ross. “It was an easy and painless transition.”
ABVI’s mailing department does contract fulfillment work for several organizations and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of the EPA contract, it disseminates requested lead abatement documents.
The department also processes all of its own mail through the system.
“The Connect+ mailing system is at the heart of our workflow,” says Ross. One important part of the system is the barcode scanner that links to our address data so we don’t have to input the address, which had been a challenge for us in the past. Now, with the barcode scanner, we’ve greatly reduced our error rates and improved processing speed.”
While Ross admits the department has not had any big direct mail projects for the Connect+ mailing system to date, he knows they are prepared when they do. “Our employees are much happier and more confident using the new system,” he offers. “This has also led to greater capacity to take on new jobs as part of our program.”
In the near future, the ABVI plans to look into new was to take advantage of the new capabilities afforded by the Connect+, including variable print and graphics for envelopes and parcel shipping. “We will also be able to shop parcels via the Connect+ mailing system that are compliant with the new United States Postal Service barcode requirements and qualify for their best pricing,” he adds.
By upgrading its mailing solution, ABVI improves productivity while simultaneously boosting worker confidence. Further, with added capabilities including variable print and parcel shipping, the fulfillment house is able to deliver more services without added investment. dps
Jul2015, DPS Magazine