Franking Machine Purchase Guide

Buying a Franking Machine

Purchasing a franking machine can make good economic sense for any business which processes more than 10-15 pieces of mail per day. In addition to saving up to 38 per cent on the cost of using stamps, an efficient model will offer a more efficient way of sending your mail by ensuring that each letter has the correct postage, eradicating any instance of over stamping and making your staff more productive.

No more 'just popping to the Post Office', your employees can concentrate on more important tasks around the office. Sending franked mail will also present a more professional image to your customers, helping instil confidence in the delivery of your products and services.

One of the first things your franking machine supplier will want to know is what level of functionality you will need from your machine; how many pieces of mail do you send on an average day and what other functions will you need to enhance your service?

Machines are generally rated by speed of delivery and will be evaluated as Low, Medium or High volume. For requirements of up to 20ppm (pieces per minute) a low volume model will be adequate, medium volume will process between 20-75ppm, and high volume delivery is assessed as anything over 90ppm.

Tips for Purchasing Your Franking Machine

Before you meet a member of the sales team from your chosen franking machine supplier, just bear in mind that he will be on commission and under pressure to meet monthly targets. Have a list of basic questions to ask before you get too bogged down in sales patter and jargon.

The following list may seem obvious but it is surprising how many businesses find themselves locked in to the wrong contract for the wrong machine because someone forgot to ask the right questions.

1. Is your chosen supplier Royal Mail approved? If not you will find yourselves excluded from many of the benefits of the franking system.

2. What is the cost of a replacement ink cartridge and how many impressions does it provide? These are not inexpensive to replace and can add considerably to the overall running costs of the system.

3. Do you have to pay for postage top ups? If they are supplied free of charge, how many do you get?

4. Most models of franking machine are re-credited through a fax or phone line; what are the charges for this service? Some companies use an 090 number which could leave you paying up to 1.50 per minute!

5. Is there a charge made for updating postal tariffs when Royal Mail make changes to their charges? There is generally one made annually.

6. How much do franking labels cost for mailing large items of post? As with the cost of ink cartridges, these stationery items soon add up and can make a considerable impact on running costs.

7. How much and what does the annual maintenance and service cover cost? Will it include all items such as call out and breakdowns, labour and parts, and the annual Royal Mail inspection?

8. Does the supplier sub-contract their engineering work or do they have their own qualified in-house team? This can make a big difference to how long it may take to have any breakdowns repaired.

9. Do they provide a full installation and training service free of charge or will the machine be delivered in-box for you to unpack, plug in, and hope for the best?

Franking Machine Options for All Mailing Needs

An excellent low volume franking machine for a cost effective entry level application is the Seacap FM10. It offers a respectable 18ppm speed, a 2.5kg integrated scale, an automatic date change feature, 4 pin security and a selection of advertising logos. The upgrade option is the Seacap FM20 which delivers a 30ppm speed, manual feed, IntelliLink technology, accessibility for up to 25 accounts and a choice of 5 pre-programmable logos.

Another low volume option is the Frama Eco Mail which can process mail up to 6mm thick at speeds of 2000pph (pieces per hour). It offers password protected security and high value blocking, programmable values and comes with 8 advertising messages.

Medium Volume Options

The Pitney Bowes DM 160i provides non-manual sorting, 40ppm speeds, an integrated 2.5kg scale and capabilities for 25 accounts. Its partner, the DM 220i, has a higher speed rate of 45ppm, differential weighing features, delivers postage, meter and accounts reports and allows up to 100 account settings.

The Frama Mail Max 1 can process 4,000pph at thicknesses of up to 8mm. It has an auto date change feature, programmable high value blocking, 250 password protected cost centres and 8 different advertising logos.

High Volume Machines

Offering great productivity with a speed of 90ppm is the Seacap FM40. In addition to regular features such as auto date change and high value blocking, added capabilities include low postage alerts, password protection, PC/printer interface and a seal/no seal option for envelopes.

Top of the range for the high volume user is the Seacap FM 60 Connect+ which offers the provision of high resolution, full colour printing. With a speed of up to 180ppm, auto-feed and a standard 5kg integrated scales upgradable to 7, 12, or 35kgs, this office workhorse can facilitate up to 500 accounts.

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