The Big 4 Franking Manufacturers: Who Are They?
Franking machines have been in use for well over a century, ever since Norwegian inventor Engle Frankmussler came up with a device to stamp out stamp thieves. His basic franking machine – using a manual crank and printing dye – automated postage stamping without the need for paper stamps. Although the principle is the same, today’s franking machines are sophisticated digital devices that typically print using an inkjet system. As well as printing postage tariffs, modern franking machines often have built-in scales to accurately weigh letters and parcels prior to postage. They can also print marketing text as well as logos and other designs on mail items, making them a cost-effective form of advertising for business customers.
By removing the need for paper stamps, franking machines can deliver impressive savings on postage rates – as much as a third-off the price of conventional stamps. Franking machines come in various sizes for big and small business customers and are available to buy or lease with a service contract attached. All franking machine manufacturers must be licensed by Royal Mail after undergoing a detailed application process. Receiving a license authorises the company to inspect, maintain or repair franking machines. The ‘Big 4’ franking machine manufacturers are Pitney Bowes, Neopost, Frama UK Ltd and FP Mailing.
In 1902, Arthur Pitney patented a “double-locking” hand-cranked postage-stamping machine and founded the Pitney Postal Machine Company. He later joined forces with Universal Stamping Machine Company founder Walter Bowes to provide metered mail to the US Post Office. Since that time, Pitney Bowes has continued to develop and manufacture franking machines, as well as expanding its operations to provide hardware and software related to mailing, shipping, packaging and documents.
Pitney Bowes is recognised for producing high quality franking machines in a range of sizes and capabilities to suit all budgets. For example, an entry-level model like the DM50 can weigh and frank up to 50 letters a day while the top-end DM Infinity series can process an incredible 22,000 mail items per hour with its virtually non-stop printing capacity.
Founded in the UK in 1924, Neopost is reported to rank first in Europe and second worldwide in mailroom equipment and logistics systems. As well as franking machines, the company also manufactures postal scales, letter folding and opening machines, scanners for detecting suspicious mail items and other mail related services. In response to tighter environmental regulations, Neopost created an eco-design guide with rules for environmentally friendly product design. This has led to a significant reduction in machine weight and electricity usage in standby mode, among other improvements.
Higher capacity franking machines include the Neopost IS-6000, which can process up to 300 mailing items per minute and features a dynamic scale that can measure, weigh and stamp in a single movement through the feed system.
Frama UK Ltd
Frama UK is the fastest growing franking machine manufacturer in the UK, a subsidiary of Frama AG that exports to over 50 countries worldwide. The company is well known for its Swiss built, high quality products, including the Matrix F series – a new range of franking machines created in conjunction with the introduction of Mailmark technology, a £70 million investment by Royal Mail.
The entry-level Matrix F2 includes many advanced features such as 18 programmable one touch keys, envelope thicknesses up to 10mm and ‘plug and play’ ink cartridge replacement. All Frama franking machines utilise touch screen technology and the company recently announced that all of its franking machines will come with a back-lit display for even easier use.
Founded in 1923, FP Mailing has been at the forefront of franking technology ever since. Among its innovations the company claims the first electronic franking machine, the first digital machine, the first inkjet machine and the first multi-carrier machine.
FP Mailing’s entry level MyMail machine comes with integrated 2kg scales, three preset marketing slogans and electronic text messaging to add more marketing text to mail items. In 2013 the company announced the introduction of PostBase, a new franking machine that combines physical mail with email communication.
Whichever manufacturer you choose for your franking needs, you can find a machine tailored to match your business volume. With state-of-the-art technology and a trusted and reliable maintenance service, franking machines can help to deliver big savings for your business.