MetroMail creates new plastic card mailing service with help from Kern
High volume mailing experts MetroMail wanted to create a new plastic card affixing service to break into a new market. Working with Kern, MetroMail developed a new service that is helping to realise its plans for growth.
As one of the UK’s largest full service mailing houses, MetroMail creates up to 1m pieces of direct mail a day. The company is particularly strong in the mail order and financial services industries and is owned by Saga plc, which accounts for around 30% of mailing volume. Established 26 years ago, MetroMail has over 200 staff and £17m turnover.
MetroMail has built an impressive reputation in delivering high volume, direct mail and transactional mail projects, offering poly wrapping, inserting, data services and litho and laser printing. The company’s long-term growth strategy has involved over £10m investment in equipment over the last 6 years to expand and strengthen its capabilities.
Most recently, the firm wanted to add personalised plastic card mailing to its list of services and target organisations that need cards for financial services, membership or loyalty schemes or gift cards, for example.
“Being able to offer customers new and compelling services helps us remain competitive and plastic card affixing represented an exciting growth opportunity for us,” commented Alan Purvis, MetroMail’s managing director. “Having designed the processes involved in the new service, we knew what the perfect solution would look like, in order to send cards to card holders efficiently and accurately. We needed the best machinery partner that not only had the right equipment but also the technical skills and attitude to help deliver our vision.”
After an in-depth review of the market, MetroMail selected Kern’s K90 purpose-built card affixing machine and K2500 inserting machine to create an inline solution. The Kern system reads personalised plastic cards, attaches them to their carrier and inserts them into an envelope with any additional material, in one seamless operation.
Capable of fixing up to eight cards on each carrier in the same print run, MetroMail do not have to split runs by card volume, reducing the amount of set-up time normally associated with card affixing. The K90’s robot arm also places each card with pinpoint accuracy, at any angle, allowing for variations in layout and personalisation.
The K90’s robot technology was one of main reasons MetroMail chose Kern, as Alan explained: “We looked at other solutions but none gave us the same confidence as the K90 in terms of speed and accuracy, nor the flexibility in how many cards can be used in the same job. There is a risk with traditional card affixing systems that cards will not always be perfectly placed or may not match the correct carrier. With the K90 we don’t have that problem. It lets us place single or multiple cards precisely where we want them, every time, achieving exceptional levels of integrity. Our business is built on efficiency and the Kern system delivers perfectly on this front.”
Another key factor in choosing to work with Kern was its people, as Alan continued: “Visiting Kern’s factory and meeting the engineers and senior management gave me the confidence the company was a serious player and the ideal long-term partner. To witness a supplier’s manufacturing process is vital for me – the attitude, environment and build quality of Kern gave me total peace of mind.”
MetroMail won an early client for the service and had to adjust the Kern system while it was up-and-running. “We had to amend some processes when the system was live and this wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t had the strong relationship with Kern,” said Alan. “They never said ‘no’ and this positive approach sums up Kern’s whole attitude. They have a close-knit culture and this becomes invaluable when helping customers through complex implementations.”
MetroMail now has a highly efficient plastic card mailing service to offer customers, which is able to produce over 80,000 packs a day, with between one and four cards on each carrier. With a single card on each carrier, throughput can increase up to 7,000 cards an hour.
Being able to handle up to eight cards in the same print run consolidates multiple jobs into one and saves MetroMail valuable time, while the accuracy of the system means perfect card placement every time. Not only does the speed and efficiency allow MetroMail to offer a quick turnaround for customers, it also means the company does not have to rely on staff working night shifts.
One of the main success factors behind the new service has been how Kern and MetroMail worked together. “The project has been a very well run collaboration and the outcome is a truly impressive offering which will play a significant role in our continued growth,” said Alan. “The ‘family feel’ and high level of attention that senior management of both Kern UK and Kern in Switzerland dedicated to the project gave us a great deal of confidence.”
The high volume card service is helping MetroMail meet its business objectives, as Alan concluded: “MetroMail wanted to create the perfect service to send cards out reliably and efficiently to help increase profits and Kern helped us achieve it. The high efficiency levels mean we can handle very large mailings and help underpin our competitive pricing. We’re targeting a growing market with the card service and it also opens doors for our existing portfolio and will help drive sales of related services.”