Airs of change and renewal arrive from the Post Office. New technological systems and processes are applied to the world of mail and, among them, digital technology applied to franking machines and mechanical franking. It is not our field of study, but it deserves this brief incursion.
In May 2007 Correos began a process of technological renovation of all franking machines, the so-called technological migration, contemplated in Resolution 9096 of April 23, 2007 of the Undersecretariat of the Ministry of Development. This renewal affected the approximately 3,500 franking machines that were in service in private companies throughout the country, in order to incorporate new technological systems that guarantee security and control in all postage processes.
In practice, this process of technological migration means that all franking machines with manual recharge (charge of the postage value by means of cards previously purchased at post offices) and telephone recharge (payment or previous deposit in bank account, and recharge to through an operator), must be replaced before December 31, 2007 or July 1, 2008, respectively, by new recharge franking machines with digital technology approved by Correos.
The New Digital Franking machine
A franking machine is, basically, a device capable of printing the postage sign corresponding to a certain postal delivery, directly on the letter or on a self-adhesive label in the case of large packages or letters. The postal rate is determined based on its weight and the options selected by the user, and the postage value is automatically deducted from a charge or postage value previously acquired by the user and stored in the equipment.Depending on the needs of the user, this basic postage equipment can be added with other correspondence processing modules, such as folders, inserters, or even modules that allow the dynamic weighing -weight on the fly- of the correspondence.
The new franking machines with digital technology guarantee total control and reliability of the postage process. The equipment is connected via modem to a server, which allows the automatic updating of postal rates, the rapid recharging of the postage and the remote control of all the operations carried out. Security is guaranteed by encrypting the information in a totally closed hardware component, impossible to manipulate.
For users, the use of digital franking machines provides different advantages; Allows you to have strict control of postage costs, even by departments within the company itself, updates and automatic pricing based on the weight and type of shipment avoids errors in postage, reduces waiting times and trips to the office of Post Office, and allows the insertion of advertising messages or logos of the company next to the postage sign. Correos, in addition, offers a 2% discount on the franked amount, since it considers that the use of these equipment facilitates or improves the management in the admission processes.
Even so, and in spite of the evident advantages that the use of these machines supposes also for the postal administration, possibly from Correos still not all the facilities have been put, or has not given the impulse that allows a wide development of the sector, such as it has happened in other countries. You only need to compare the figures of franking machines in service in Spain (approximately 3,500 before migration, which could be reduced to 2,000 teams in a first phase after migration), compared to the approximately 250,000 machines installed in countries such as France or Great Britain, 150,000 in Germany, 30,000 in Italy, 28,000 in Sweden … or the one and a half million teams in the United States …
The cost and amortization of equipment and consumables, the requirement of advance payment of postage, the obligation to generate delivery notes and the deposit of pre-classified postal items in the post offices, are several of the key factors to have in account by potential users against other postage systems, which makes it a system used mainly by professional mailing companies and private companies with a significant volume of correspondence.