Daily Penalty Charge Notices for Major Police Force

5,000 A4 4pp complex document creations every day with a standard layout, heavy personalisation, and two variable images.

Penalty charge notice (PCN) letters are produced for a major police force, specifically for drivers who have driven through a bus lane. We received a data file and two images per recipient, one of the vehicle in the bus lane and one close up of just the number plate. Once the letters are posted, a PDF of every letter must be generated and securely transferred back to the client. As they are legal documents, we must ensure we print, fulfil, and post on the same day, providing postal dockets to prove what was released.

The objective

We manage up to 5,000 A4 4pp complex document creations printed in black only per day, which is folded and enclosed into a C5 window envelope. PDF generation and archiving is essential for the client as well as frequent reporting, guaranteed same day dispatch, a standard layout for PCNs with heavy personalisation and two variable images. Due to the repetitive nature of the job, accuracy is paramount, requiring automation.

Our solution

The sample file that we were given to match had been generated from a legacy system which we couldn’t use as the base of our template, so we had to rebuild the entire document from scratch which was time consuming. Variable images are common, but the sheer number of files presented a challenge. We needed to make the template as efficient as possible to keep the size of both the print files and the archive PDFs to a minimum so that the files could be generated, ripped, printed, and transferred in a short time frame guaranteeing that we could always process in a single day.

When new files are uploaded to our SFTP server, they are automatically picked up and processed. A check is performed to ensure that both images are present for every record of data and any that aren’t are removed and added to an error report. Print files and check sheets are generated and sent directly to the print queue, then PDF’s are generated and automatically uploaded back to the SFTP server along with any error report and the client is notified.

The quantities are then added to a monthly report used to generate the invoice. We have a dedicated mono printer and intelligent enclosing line that is reserved for regular work of this type. We also have identical machine backups so there is never a single point of failure and quality is never compromised.

The outcome

All the hard work that was put in at the start of this project is now paying off as it runs smoothly and efficiently. Aside from when the template needs updating, there is no human interaction with the job until a printer operator starts the printing. We have never missed a same day dispatch.


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