Ren-Form asked Bytes Document Solutions (BDS) to help script the Ren-Form devised solution for its recently purchased Xerox iGen 150 digital press that would enable the company to meet City and Guilds’ requirement.
This came after the global education provider City and Guilds turned to long-term local print partner Ren-Form for a solution that would speed up the delivery of certificates to learners in South Africa and other countries on the continent.
Erika Hearnshaw, digital marketing manager, Ren-Form said, ‘Ren-Form has a strong relationship with City and Guilds. When a learner in South Africa completes a City and Guilds vocational course and is approved for certification, their information is recorded and sent from the UK head office to Ren-Form for processing.
‘Last year, we bought the first Xerox iGen 150 digital press in Africa from Bytes Document Solutions so that we could better service the South African market and, in particular, variable data customers and education providers like City and Guilds, which has more than 10 000 education training centres throughout the world, and thousands of students in South Africa and across the continent.’
Shortly after the purchase of the new digital press, one of the most productive digital cut-sheet colour presses available in the market, City and Guilds started making inquiries with various printers about a possible solution that would get certificates to its customers more quickly and securely.
‘When our South African learners told us they needed to get their certificates delivered faster, we started looking for a new way to do this,’ said Sean Carroll, operations business analyst at City and Guilds in the UK. ‘The main challenge was building a solution that would allow us to deliver files to Ren-Form every day, while also improving on the existing print, pack and despatch process. We approached a number of other digital printers, but Ren-Form stood out by immediately taking on what was a complex technical challenge.’
Bytes Document Solutions was brought in to script the Ren-Form initiated solution on the iGen 150 hence meeting the bespoke City and Guilds’ request on the production system side. Hearnshaw had investigated a similar solution several years ago without success, because the requirements had been too sophisticated for the technology available at the time.
‘We bought the Xerox iGen 150 because of its remarkable quality and productivity, and its workflow capabilities. I knew that if we could formulate a script to drive our solution, we could get the iGen 150 to automate the entire process for City and Guilds,’ said Hearnshaw.
Hearnshaw asked Antonie Heyneke, hosted services and solutions development manager at Bytes Document Solutions, to assist in making this ‘architecture’ a reality by writing a script to sort the various print files in sequence for packing and delivery. ‘We added tray selections to print the delivery notes, and we worked with DHL and Postnet to create a log file to control label printing and delivery,’ said Hearnshaw.
The difficulty with combining files is that in a normal print run you would have to choose one specific stock. ‘What is unique about this solution is that it combines files and incorporates three different paper stocks, which is quite remarkable,’ said Heyneke. ‘On top of that, Erika requested that Bytes Document Solutions create a log file for custom uploading into a third-party system. There is no out-of-the box software application or solution that would do all of this without custom scripting.’
‘With Ren-Form, we have been able to cut delivery time by ten days,’ said Carroll. ‘Having an end-to-end service in South Africa means we no longer need to send certificates from the UK, which reduces overhead spend, enables us to better serve our customers and reduces our carbon footprint.’
The solution has completely changed how City and Guild certificates are printed and despatched in South Africa and other African countries. City and Guilds awards two million certificates to learners around the world every year and anything that can be done to simplify the process and minimise the wait time for its customers is a boon.
‘The main benefit for learners is that they get their certificates faster,’ added Carroll. ‘Many need proof of completing their courses for employment, so the reduced wait time has an impact on their lives. Because it is working so well, we will be looking at processing results from other countries here too into the future.’
Ren-Form now receives batches of between 20000 and 30000 student results from City and Guilds, converts that data, sorts it, prints certificates, puts them into envelopes, scans barcodes, generates waybills, and dispatches the envelopes directly from the iGen 150, all with limited human intervention.
‘The result is that the certificate error rate is down by more than 40%, with every spoilt certificate accounted for, which is a critical security requirement,’ said Hearnshaw. ‘In addition, we provide City and Guilds with detailed reports that answer any questions they may have on the entire process. It’s a completely automated data-driven solution that we are looking to offer to other international companies. Our partnership with Bytes Document Solutions is a vital part of our strategy moving forward. We’re aiming to build more and more bespoke solutions for customers in the education and communication sectors.’