Parts of a Franking Machine
Depending on the model your franking machine’s features may vary. This video above shows you the key parts of a franking machine.
The scale is where you weigh your letters and parcels. Scales can be built in, add-ons or external. If you have an external scale you can enter the weight manually through the display.
Here you control your settings and manage your account, either through touch screen or keyboard. You can also top up postage and add logo and message. It’s simple to use.
This is where your letters enter the machine to be franked. The Feed Deck is either automatic or manual. You can adjust the width for wider letters.
This is where your mail stacks up once it’s been franked. You can also choose to replace it with a mailing bag.
The Ink Cartridges
In the UK we use black and blue ink. The cartridges are easy to replace.
The moistener seals your envelopes and occasionally needs to be topped up with water.
Labels are used for larger packages that don’t fit through the franking machine. Just weigh your parcel, print a label and tape it on.
And that’s all the key parts of a franking machine.
Basic Features (For those with up to 75 mail items per day)
The cheapest, simplest franking machines work on a hand-feed stamp and remove system. This is a slower process, but is perfectly adequate for those with a smaller output.
All franking machines have a built-in scale which will accurately calculate a rate for each letter. On the smaller systems, you can expect a maximum capacity of around 2kg, with a maximum thickness of nine millimetres.
Franking machines need an internet connection in order to remain up to date with current postage rates. On basic models, this is usually done via a LAN connection.
As well as the franking stamp, all machines will allow you to print a logo or slogan across the envelope for cheap, effective advertising; this will usually be in monochrome and of a limited size.
It is also possible to programme a franking machine to automatically allocate mailing costs to different departments, clients or accounts.
More advanced franking machines will have all of the above features but with a few extra tweaks and improvements.
The hand-feed system becomes automated to give a faster output, starting at around 20 items per minute and increasing to around 200 in the most technologically advanced models. The scale capacity also increases to allow the larger, more robust models to automatically process heavier items.
Higher grade franking machines have wireless capability giving a tidier workspace and their memory is greater in order to store more programmes so the user can access special reports for use in the organisation's accounting.
The space used to print advertising can also be larger on the higher specification machines so it is possible to convey more information; thus rendering this form of marketing more useful.
Additional Features (Found only in top of the range machines)
If you have a seriously large mailing output, the features on the more costly machines could be invaluable to you.
The highest level of franking machine has the capability to feed mixed mail, accurately pricing each item and can feed around 200 items per minute; although it is important to note when reading specifications that the figure given is for a straight feed of identical items, so if your intention is to use it for a mixed batch, you should anticipate an output slightly lower than the figure given.
These franking machines are also capable of full colour digital printing to create an eye-catching mailing which is far more likely to get the attention of the recipient.
Rather than using a keypad (as with the lower range models) these top of the range devices have touchscreen control offering greater functionality, the chance to store even more automatic programmes and a means for more customised reports, with information often being automatically uploaded to a personal web-space in order for analysis of trends and other data.
Some models also have such features as envelope sealers, paper folders and label printing, thus offering a full mail shot solution within the one tool.
It is also worth noting that when selecting your franking machine, you should verify that it is approved by Royal Mail as one which is not may give inaccurate prices which, in turn, will quickly absorb any money you have saved by franking your mail."
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