Re: Royal Mail – Reducing Stamp Fraud – New (C7 Type) Stamp Cancellation Ink Trials
To: All Branches
Stamp Fraud costs Royal Mail millions each year. A number of functions were brought together by Stephen Agar, Royal Mail MD of C&NA, and the Reducing Stamp Fraud project was launched early last year. This project involves senior stakeholders from Revenue Protection; Criminal Law; Investigations and Security; Operations; Engineering; Customer Experience and the Stamp Production team. The project objectives are to understand the scale of stamp fraud to Royal Mail and look at what counter-measures, through a series of activities, could be taken make it harder for criminals to defraud Royal Mail.
Stamp fraud is as a result of customers re-using un-cancelled stamps, re-using stamps [washed or un-cancelled] and using counterfeit stamps.
Royal Mail have undertaken extensive research and development work with existing machine ink and cancellation equipment with current supplier PostJet/Domino working to identify potential options. Postjet have used known washing techniques to test options and identified a pigment which can be added to the ink. In parallel, they explored the pigment dispersion which leads to a fluid architecture that is a little different from the current fluid used on Royal Mail machines but requires some longer term user testing. This ink component has had successful primary tests on paper and stamps already e.g., with stamps significantly damaged by the time the ink had washed or partially washed off. Over the last few months the supplier has explored and tested several modifications to the fluid, with and without binders, and concluded that most of the binders are to some degree water soluble leading to marginal differences in performance over the standard fluid. The conclusion was that ink changes should improve resistance to bleaching without significant changing of the user experience. The benefit is that mail cancelled by automation will have ink which is fit for purpose. This in turn will both seriously disrupt the supply chain for ‘kiloware’ (sale of bulk used stamps) and stamps intended to be washed for resale as ‘new’ and will have a direct and positive impact on Royal Mail’s revenue.
Summary of actions specific to cancellation ink
The project team has reviewed all cancellation ink to ensure that it is fit for purpose i.e., it cannot be washed off without damage being caused to the stamps but print quality and machine performance is maintained or enhanced. The project team has worked with procurement and engineering to ensure that the inks are fit for purpose, safe to use and pose no health and safety risk to Royal Mail staff and in particular Engineers. As a result:
▪ A liquid ink, SP87, will be available in liquid form and will be used in the cartridges of Royal Mail Trodat stampers.
◦ The liquid ink is available via Royal Mail Stores now.
◦ The Trodat stampers will be available from Monday 5th March 2018 via the ARIBA ordering process.
▪ Royal Mail assures the CWU that the ink used on the stamp cancelling machines is fit for purpose and has not changed and poses no risk to safety and health of CWU Members.
▪ Royal Mail’s external suppliers have produced an ink for use on the iLSM and IMP automatic sorting machines which is a variant of the current K7 ink. This has been tested and preliminary results indicate it meets Royal Mail requirements however a live test is required before national deployment.
◦ The new ink, C7 ink, is going to be tested for a period of 6 weeks.
◦ SAC1 and COSHH Assessment have been completed and received safety concurrence.
◦ OCC concurrence has been received.
◦ ISS /Biffa have confirmed the waste from this ink can be removed as per current processes.
◦ On site engagement with Mail Centre Managers, Performance Delivery Managers, work area managers and the CWU Area and Workplace Health and Safety Reps (Operations and Engineering) will take place at all sites.
◦ Following tests and a full review of the impact on the operation, a decision will be made regarding national deployment. If deployment is recommended as the course of action, it is anticipated that this will be done site by site with the larger sites being completed first.
Impact on staff – C7 ink tests
▪ The supplier will be converting existing printers and installing them for the trial.
▪ The supplier will be reverting converted printers after the trial.
▪ The ink is expected to perform the same as current and there is no change to process for Engineers re: maintenance etc.
▪ Operational staff will not be affected directly by the ink changes but they will be asked to continue to:
◦ Record issues/contact the local engineer as current BAU.
◦ Process 5 x test cards on the machine with the converted printer hourly on late shift on the first day. Subsequent days will require 2 x sets of 5 test cards processed at the start and end of cancellation on late shift i.e., 5pm and 9pm. The cards need to be removed and filed and at the end of the week posted by Special Delivery. This is essential for Royal Mail to manage and check print quality.
CWU Area Health and Safety Rep & Engineering Health and Safety Rep Involvement
It has been agreed that both Area Health and Safety Reps and Engineering Health and Safety Reps will be fully engaged, involved and consulted prior to and during the trial with their feedback, input taken into account.
• Safety Assessment & Concurrence (SAC1)
• COSHH Assessment
• K7+ Safety Data Sheet
• PostJet Safety Data Sheet
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer