You know you've hit a winning formula when 20 years on, your machines are still selling, especially given the current climate. Back in 1989, KAS Paper Systems launched its Mailmaster range and two decades on it's still targeting mail houses and transactional printers. But since its launch, it has also found a home with end-users such as banks and the public sector.
According to KAS managing director Stephen Hampstead, the UK manufacturer spotted a gap in the market. "There wasn't anything comparable to its ease of use," he says. "There are slower, less expensive machines on the market, but nothing that matches it for overall flexibility."
Originally launched as an end-unit to a collator, the machine could insert collated information to C4 sized envelopes. The Mailmaster has evolved over the years to handle all types of envelopes with specialised feeders for books, stapled sets and CDs and can be used inline with third-party manufacturers as well as other KAS equipment.
Its 465 model was launched 11 years ago and could handle a maximum speed of 4,000 cycles per hour (cph) from DL through to C5 envelopes. In 2002, the machine had its speed bumped up to 6,000cph and was renamed the 465HS, or ‘high speed'.
To keep its technology up to date, OMR devices, cameras and barcode readers also became available as optional extras allowing for personalised mailings. Each customer can be given additional inserts alongside their bill or statement - the coding on the papers ensures that the customer gets the marketing material that's relevant for them.
"It gives more data integrity as the document is travelling through the system," adds Hampstead.
The machine can pick up on errors via a number of sensors and cease operation. There are also double sheet detectors on the feeders and the insert stations have miss and jam detectors.
There are two touch-screen control options: a standard screen that provides information on speed and error locations, while a larger screen includes information on data storage. There is also a reporting facility on the touch-screen that offers information on data tracking.
Different types of inserts can be handled depending on the type of feeders installed on the machine. For example, printers could opt for feeders to handle magazines or books up to 7mm thick. According to Hampstead the systems are normally built to the users' requirements.
Some features of the updated 465HS can be retrofitted onto 465s, but it may not stack up financially.
"Anything is possible, but you have to ask yourself ‘will it be worthwhile economically?' We could rebuild it, but it might be cheaper just to buy a new machine," explains Hampstead.
The manufacturer does sell used models and has six engineers based nationally. Because of the bespoke nature of these machines, a new 465HS can cost anywhere from £40,000 to £140,000 depending on the specifications. A used machine will generally cost around 50% of the price of a new model.
"If it's from a reliable source or has been refurbished by us then it may cost slightly more than 50%," says Hampstead. If investing in a secondhand model, apart from checking general areas like cleanliness on the machine, try and get hold of one with a colour screen as these are the newer models and will be a higher specification compared to their older counterparts.
Overall packing thickness max 15mm
Min envelope size 229x110mm
Max envelope size 335x250mm
What to look for
- General wear and tear
- Colour screen