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Letter Folding Equipment Buyer's Guide - Considerations

Letter Folding Equipment Buyer's Guide - Considerations

Published: 04/09/2011

» Business Equipment
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»»» Letter Folding Machines


Letter Folding Equipment Considerations

Before you purchase letter folding equipment, it’s important to think about your folding needs and how you expect the machine to perform. Here are some of the main considerations to address.





Saving money, increasing productivity


The primary benefit to purchasing letter folding equipment is that it helps businesses save money and increase productivity. Instead of paying employees to fold thousands of documents by hand, you could use a letter folder and complete the job in a fraction of the time. Here’s a typical example:



Your company needs to fold 5,000 letters for a monthly mailing. Without a letter folder, an employee making $10 per hour can neatly fold 350 to 450 documents per hour by hand. The job would take 12 to 14 hours, costing you $120 to $140 for the labor, not including benefits.



A basic letter folder costs about $1,500 and completes the job in less than two hours. In one year – 12 mailings – you would have made up the cost. You've also freed up 10 to 12 hours per month for your employee to perform other tasks.





Understanding duty cycles



You'll need to look for letter folding equipment with the appropriate duty cycle for the number of documents you expect to fold each month. This lets you know how many documents you can fold without overworking the machine. You’ll find duty cycle ratings as low as 3,000 folds per month on very small letter folders, and as high as unlimited for industrial‐sized machines.



As a rule of thumb, your actual monthly volume shouldn’t exceed 75% of the machine’s duty cycle. If you need to fold 100,000 documents each month, for example, you should look for a duty cycle of at least 125,000.



Duty cycles also assume you will evenly spread out your usage over the month. Just because a letter folder has a rating of 100,000 folds per month doesn’t mean you should process all 100,000 documents in a single project. Be careful not to exceed 35% to 40% of a letter folder’s duty cycle at one time.





Manual vs. automatic setup



Another important consideration is whether you want equipment with manual or automatic settings. This determines how it will process the type of fold you want (“c‐fold”, “z‐fold”, “engineering fold”, etc.) and how it works with different‐sized documents.



Low‐ to mid‐range letter folders require manual setup, where you need to physically reposition fold plates for your desired fold and readjust settings when you work with different paper sizes. With an automated letter folder, you can program both tasks on a control panel.



Manual letter folders are inexpensive, but require you to do more work by hand and may limit your fold type options. Automated letter folders come in handy when working with large volumes of documents with different folds or paper sizes, but they cost considerably more than manual folders.





Other considerations



Here are some other considerations to look for when shopping for letter folders:


Capacity – In­feed capacity is how many unfolded sheets the hopper can hold before it needs to be refilled; out­feed capacity notes how many folded documents the machine can collect before you need to remove them.



Stapled documents – Regardless whether you use manual or automatic setup, you always have to hand‐feed stapled documents into the machine. Find out how many sheets of stapled paper the equipment can handle at once.



Loudness – Since most letter folders are quite loud, you want to place the machine in a dedicated copy room or mailroom to avoid distracting your staff.



Batch counters – This allows you to keep track of how many sheets were folded and prevent the machine from folding more than it can handle



Project memory – Instead of programming your folder for a new job every time you use it, you can preprogram different types of folds so you only have to set up your most frequent projects once.



Conveyer belt – This quickly moves folded documents towards the catch tray at the other end of the machine.



Sound­deadeners – Since letter folders can be loud, this add‐on muffles the noise so it doesn’t disturb fellow employees.