Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Bristol IMPs: Address Interpretation

In 1997 a project was initiated to improve the 'read' quality of the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of postcodes in the addresses.  Following initial trials in late 2001 the new technology was trialled in production in Greenford in 2002 and then rolled out nationwide.

Mail items processed using AI technology were identified with an "A" prefix in the Letter Quality Mark (info coming soon on a blog near you !) or in the address/date block.

The "A" prefix was dropped in 2008 at the same time as the implementation of PostJet printers.

In 2001, along with the introduction of Royal Mail’s Address Interpretation (AI) system, video images from all Mail Centres of mail items with unreadable addresses are fed to one of four special handling centres for manual coding.  The four Manual Data Entry Centres (MDECs) are based at Doxford (Sunderland), Plymouth, Stockport and Stoke, and were each equipped with about 400 workstations, though with improved technology the staff at the MDECs has been reducing.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Bristol IMPs: Redrawn Slogans and different format Date Blocks

In order to rectify the truncated slogans, slogans that were repeated were redrawn as shown in the "MOVING HOME ?" examples below.

The Bristol IMPs continued to use different format date blocks - IMPs 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8 used a 6-line "T" under  "B" format, IMPs 4 and 6 used a 6-line "Taunton" centred format, and IMP2 used a 4-line "Bristol" block.


In November 2009 the IMPs standardised on one format, the 6-line "Taunton" centred form.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Bristol IMPs: Truncated Slogans

All of the IMPs started using the 6-line "Royal Mail / Bath Bristol / Taunton" date block apart from IMP 2 which used a "Bristol" 4-line block between May and November 2009.

Use of the 6-line date block caused some slogans to be truncated.

In the sheet below one can see three different formats of the date block:  two different 6-line blocks with "T" under "B" and with "Taunton" centred, and a 4-line block.  The slogan is OK on the 4-line "Bristol" block but is truncated on the top two.

Again the slogan is OK on the bottom 4-line "Bristol" block but truncated on the top two 6-line blocks.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Bristol IMPs: PostJet and Cueprint slogans

As the cutover of IMPs from Cueprint to PostJet printers continued, slogan cancels in two different formats were being used.  This first slogan was initially produced as "AIR DISPLAY / STAMPS ON SALE" rather than "AIR DISPLAYS / STAMPS ON SALE" but was corrected after a few days.  The top two covers below show the Cueprint slogans with 8 wavy lines, while the bottom is the PostJet slogan with 6 wavy lines.

The "Nominate your / hero" appears in a 3-line format on the Cueprint IMPs and a 2-line format on the PostJet ones.

"MOVING / HOME ?" also appears on the Cueprint printers.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Bristol IMPs: Introduction of PostJet printers in 2008

After trials in Leeds, IMPs nationwide were converted from Cueprint printers to use Postjet printers between April and October 2008.

Not all the IMPs were changed at the same time.  Bristol implementation started with IMP 3 in May 2008, followed by IMPs 1, 4 and 5, then IMPs 6, 7 and 8.  IMP 2 continued to use the original Cueprint printers into September 2008.

Initial implementation used a "Bristol" 4-line date block (no "Royal Mail") ...

... before cutting over to a "Royal Mail / Bath Bristol / Taunton" 6-line date block, with the "T" of "Taunton" under the "B" of "Bath".

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Bristol IMPs: Test Images

A couple of different test images have been used on the IMPs - these probably should not have been used on live mail.  The first, shorter one, is titled "IMP / PREFLIGHT / Test Image / First Printer" and appears on the back of envelopes.

The second, longer one, is titled "IMP / PREFLIGHT / Test Image / Second Printer" and appears on the front of envelopes.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Bristol IMPs: Reduced Form cancels

In September 1997 it was found that on small envelopes the ink used for the postmark (which is printed a fixed distance from the top of an envelope) was interfering with the phosphor reaction of the ink used for the tagcode (which is printed a fixed distance from the bottom of the envelope).

To overcome this problem a Reduced Form of postmark was introduced for envelopes less than 106mm in height.

This first sheet is for "Bristol" ...

... followed by "Bath Bristol" ...

... and "Bath Bristol    Taunton".  The format for this form of cancel varied, the ones below from 1999 & 2000 had a narrow gap between "Royal Mail" and "Bath" ...

... while these from 2002 had a wider gap.