Shipping and Mailing | Pitney Bowes
AVR accelerates business growth and profitability by moving to color inkjet printing.
AVR turns to AcceleJet® to improve agility and efficiency of client billing services.
Provides software and services that include printing and mailing of utility bills to clients’ customers
Mails approximately 600,000 utility bills every month
Based in Houston, Texas
Reduce implementation time for clients’ changes to their customer bills
Increase speed and efficiency of bill printing
More agile bill printing for AVR clients
75% fewer employees working on printing process
50% less time required to complete the typical client print run
67% less inventory of client forms requiring storage
“The AcceleJet has given us a competitive advantage...we’re now looking at additional resources within Pitney Bowes that could further streamline our operations.” Patrizia Innis
Strategic Alliance Director
Utility-billing services is a market in transition. AVR, Inc. provides back-office services to utility companies, including printing and mailing approximately 600,000 utility bills each month. “The market demand is for solutions that enable forms to be changed very quickly,” explains Patrizia Innis, strategic alliance director for AVR. “With our previous two-step printing process, that was not financially feasible.”
Although some sections of utility bills are standardized, every bill includes unique information, such as customer address, billing period, due date and amount due. In the past, AVR would personalize bills by running preprinted forms through a monochrome laser jet printer. The preprinted forms included the client’s logo and other static information. The laser jet added variable data.
One downside of this process was that AVR had to store three months’ worth of blank forms for each client. Another issue was that there was a significant lag between a client request and the change taking effect. And AVR would either absorb the cost of the preprinted forms that went unused, or pass that cost on to the client.
As the utility-billing market shifted toward greater customization, AVR needed a more agile printing process to meet customer needs. It also saw the opportunity to eliminate operational inefficiencies of the two-step printing process.
AVR sought a full-color printing system that would fit the scale of its business, provided by a company that AVR could partner with for the long term. Pitney Bowes had been providing AVR with presort mailing services for years, and the AcceleJet® printing and finishing system was the right size to meet the company’s immediate needs, with the option of scaling up over time.
“The Pitney Bowes team analyzed our environment, made recommendations and even helped position the equipment for optimal efficiency," Innis says. "They walked us through how we could get the most out of the system.”
Now, AVR can print a full-color invoice in one pass, including the client logo. Rather than preprinted forms, the AcceleJet prints from large rolls of white paper, and it can add dynamic perforations wherever they’re needed. "Being able to add dynamic perforation in-line during the printing prevents us from having to buy extra equipment," says Kenny Shairrick, statement processing manager for AVR.
Even more important is the agility of the AcceleJet printing and finishing system. “As an example,” Shairrick says, “some AVR clients put a rate table on the back of their bill. With preprinted forms, a single rate change would require us to throw away our entire inventory of forms for that client. Having the flexibility to change forms on the fly is a big deal for our clients.”
AVR is also pleased with the print quality of the AcceleJet system. “From a cosmetic standpoint, we get more consistency in the look of the forms,” Innis says.
The AcceleJet printing and finishing system has dramatically improved the efficiency of AVR’s bill-printing operation. “A big advantage of the AcceleJet is its speed,” Shairrick says. “We’ve also eliminated the changeover time required when someone had to take out one preprinted form and put in another. We’ve reduced the number of employees working on printing by 75 percent, and we’ve shaved about 50 percent off the time it takes to complete a typical print run.”
Moreover, the change in printing processes has reduced the chance of human error in loading paper and has reduced AVR’s need for warehouse space to store preprinted bills. “We still keep preprinted stock on hand, in case of emergency," Shairrick says. “But we can now store just one month’s supply, rather than three months’, and we’re producing those forms ourselves instead of relying on an outside vendor. This has significantly reduced production costs.”
“The AcceleJet printing and finishing system has given us a competitive advantage,” Innis concludes. “We’re working with Pitney Bowes more as a partner than as a vendor. A partnership benefits both parties, and we’re now looking at additional resources within Pitney Bowes that could further streamline our operations.”