UK Mail, part of the Business Post Group, commissioned IDS in January 2008 to produce a system to allow their customers to generate and physically post letters directly from their computer or laptop.
“We wanted to develop a mail solution that combined the ease and environmental friendliness of electronic communication with the impact of physical mail,” states Guy Buswell, CEO of the Business Post Group. “Our challenge was to find a partner that was capable of meeting our rigorous requirements and IDS ticked all the boxes.”
Users of imail login via an Internet browser, compose their letter using familiar word processing tools then “post” it with a click of the mouse. Following this, the letter is sent electronically to a UK Mail sorting depot closest to its destination, where it is printed and inserted in a pre-paid envelope ready for delivery by the Royal Mail.
Not only does imail provide a convenient desktop to doormat postal service, it also reduces costs associated with the production and delivery of letters. UK Mail estimate the traditional method of generating and posting first class mail can be as much as £1 per piece. With imail, this price drops to just 47 pence, inclusive of materials, production and first class delivery.
IDS developed a Web-based interface from the ground up to allow users to compose and administer letters. They also incorporated a combination of existing document production solutions to satisfy imail’s back-end sorting, spooling and printing processes.
“A proven software solution called SpoolQ was used to provide the mechanism for managing and printing imail letters”, comments Mark Dowson, Managing Director of IDS. “For over ten years, SpoolQ has been used by organisations such as The Bank of England, local Government authorities and the MOD, so we were certain it was robust enough to handle imail’s printing requirements.”
UK Mail estimated in excess of 80,000 letters would be generated and posted each day using imail, so it was paramount the hardware and software were capable of handling this quantity.
Mark continues: “To ensure we had the bandwidth to cope with the intended high volume of letters, we used a dedicated VPN link to connect the imail server to the SpoolQ systems at each of the eight regional UK Mail sorting depots.”
South West Communications in Exeter (UK) was commissioned by IDS to provide a secure Tier 4 data centre for the imail server, along with the VPN link, and communications hardware required at each sorting depot.
IDS also worked closely with UK Mail’s printer supplier, Konica Minolta, to ensure each imail letter is output as expected and within the deadline imposed by the Royal Mail to attain next-day delivery.
“Despite the complexity of the imail solution, and the involvement of multiple suppliers, the project was completed on time and within budget,” states Mark. “We put much of this success down to our experience integrating bespoke document production solutions for a wide range of industry sectors, and our unprecedented knowledge of the software and hardware necessary to accomplish this.“
Since its launch in November 2008, IDS has continued to manage imail, providing 24/7 support, software updates, and hardware tuning.
Mark concludes: “In addition to our managed service commitment, our relationship with UK Mail is destined to continue with the development and integration of an imail facility to create and deliver postcards and direct mail marketing literature!”
To find out more about imail, visit ukmail.biz/imail
Click here to find out more about the document production solutions available from IDS.
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