Instantly recognisable with its built-in scale and letter processing tray, franking machines are used by businesses of every size across the world and have been an office staple for more than nine decades.
The very first franking machine made its appearance at a World Fair in Germany, presented by Norwegian inventor Engle Frankmussler in 1884. The machine had a counting device, and used printing dye and a manual lever to print a stamp onto an envelope whilst simultaneously noting the correct postage.
We have, of course, come a considerable way since then. In today’s world, franking machines are increasingly digital, and combine hardware and software to deliver more efficient and effective franking. The most sophisticated franking machines are fully automated and come with advanced analytics, providing in-depth insight into the franking function, as well as Internet connectivity to deliver software or postal rate updates in real-time.
There’s also Royal Mail’s Mailmark technology which is quickly becoming the modern standard for franking. Mailmark, introduced by Royal Mail in 2014, replaced the traditional ‘town and crown’ die franking mark with a state-of-the-art, machine-readable 2D barcode that carries information on the user and the mail being sent.
Clearly, the future of franking is very much digital and online – but some businesses are yet to make the switch, and much of this comes down to not being aware of the benefits or value it can provide.
What benefits can digital franking machines provide your business?
Typically, those with analogue franking machines haven’t taken the time to consider how much more effective a digital franking machine could be. For these businesses, the franking function is “fine” as it is – and doesn’t need to change. However, more often than not, there are a significant cost savings to be made – something that can be rapidly proved by a thorough audit of the franking/mail environment.
By changing to digital franking machines, businesses can benefit from:
One of the major concerns for businesses using analogue franking machines is speed. Most analogue franking machines are plagued by the issues of old dial-up technology. For businesses with an analogue franking machine, it could take up to an hour to download updates from the Internet, as it’s hooked up to a phone line. A digital connection, however, will enable much faster data transfer, completing software and postage rate updates in minutes – not hours.
With digital Local Area Network (LAN) connectivity, your franking machine can automatically connect to the Internet to update its software and postage rates, and progress can be paused and resumed should connectivity drop. An analogue connection, on the other hand, is subject to slow transfer rates and possible connection time outs – meaning the download could stall and become corrupted, meaning it would need to be started again.
Digital franking machines can be connected via WiFi, ethernet or even tether to a computer connected to the Internet via USB. Flexible connectivity solutions mean that no matter whether your office is wired or wireless, your digital franking machine will fit right in. It doesn’t even need to be in the same room!
Analogue franking machines need to have a dedicated phone line – but by switching to digital, you can remove that cost. Most businesses use broadband Internet and as digital franking machines can be connected in the same way, you will not have to pay for a new digital connection.
- SMART technology and Mailmark
Finally, digital franking machines will enable you to take advantage of SMART technology which ensures mail is franked at a price that is inclusive of VAT. For example, if you are using a Royal Mail service that is exempt from VAT and using a SMART franking machine, that information is captured and can be used later to generate a VAT invoice and claim the expenditure back from HMRC.
Also, in order to benefit from Mailmark, you need to have a digital franking machine that is Mailmark-enabled. Mailmark will allow you to monitor your post, access analytics to dive into your mail environment, and exercise greater control over your mail.
Going digital with your franking machine is just one way in which to get the best value out of your franking machine – and everyone’s doing it. As Mailmark becomes more prevalent, manufacturers and suppliers will be moving more and more towards digital as it enables them to provide a better service.
If you are wondering how you can get more value from your franking machine, download our eBook: