Design team member: Jakub Bubielo

Supervisor: Prof. David A. Clausi

Background

The print and mail business is a multi-million dollar industry that generates its revenue from companies that outsource their mail operations. A typical print and mail facility produces millions of envelopes each year. To handle such large volumes each facility uses printing and inserting machines that are capable of processing thousands of mail pieces each hour.

Some new generation mail inserters can selectively add various pages into envelopes. This allows companies to target individual customers with strategically placed advertisements and information leaflets. Most older inserters and many new ones do not have this capability. In addition, the inserters that provide selective inserting capabilities are much more expensive than the base models.

Project description

There is a great opportunity for the development of a selective mail inserting system that would be an add-on to inserters that do not have this capability. The expectation of this project is to develop a system that will interface with any mail inserting machine allowing it to selectively place mail inserts into envelopes addressed to different recipients.

The solution will use a barcode scanner or a camera to read off the identity of each mail piece's recipient when the piece enters the inserter. The information will be used to determine which inserts need to be included in the recipient's envelope. As the mail piece travels through the inserter, the system will control the inserter operation such that each recipient receives a unique set of inserts.

Design methodology

This project will be solved using a variation of the waterfall design process. The waterfall design methodology consists of a series of steps that include problem definition, specifications, hardware and software design, implementation, integration and testing.

The project is divided into two phases. The goal of phase one is to arrive at a solution that would provide selective inserting functionality to a simple inserter. The goal of phase two is to add database driven inserting capabilities to the phase one solution. In selective inserting the information about the processing steps required for each mail piece is read directly from the mail piece. In database driven inserting an identification number is read from the piece, and it is used to retrieve the processing instructions from a database.