93 AN ENTERPRISE OF EXCELLENCE CHAPTER FOUR TOP BILLING: AMS PRINTS MILLIONS OF BILLS — AND KEEPS TRACK OF EACH ONE Huge rolls of paper wind through the printer at 420 feet per minute, a process that emblazons images, stamps perforated lines, trims edges, cuts pages and stacks the sheets in one continuous, cacophonous stream. In a mere 90 seconds, a tray fills with 1,800 sheets. Nearby, a red light flickers on inserting machines. Each blink reflects a camera shot of a bar code, capturing the electronic signal that contains specific instructions for each bill. Jane Doe has three businesses? The machine blows air to open an envelope and then shoots in three bills, along with a newsletter and a return envelope for Jane Doe’s accounts. NISC’s Automated Mailroom Services (AMS) runs 24 hours a day, at a speed of 100,000 images an hour. By the end of the month, 20 million images translate into trays of mail that total $3 million in postage. On some peak days of the month, AMS fills a 53-foot trailer with mail. AMS buys ink by the pallet and paper rolls arrive by the tractor-trailer load. And the new state-of-the-art printers, which were installed in 2015, allow for growth as AMS steadily adds new customers. This is a far cry from the days when utilities and telecoms sent out their bills on postcards. Each morning, a production team reviews the bills processed the night before and makes sure all the information is in order for the day’s work. AMS employees write the software that controls the machines, design the bills and inserts, schedule the production and communicate with customers. (In addition to Member bills, AMS prints capital credit checks and some statements for outside customers.) AMS keeps an electronic footprint of each image, and with ActivTrace mail-tracking software developed by NISC, AMS and its customers can follow the mailing path of each bill after it goes to the post office in downtown St. Louis. As an additional service, AMS can track return envelopes, so Members can anticipate how many payments they may receive on a given day. “Our goal is to make [mail services] affordable, streamlined and efficient and to deliver the best possible service to our customers that we can,” says Rick Willmann, Sr. Manager of AMS and Facilities. (Top) Matt Carney operates one of five inserters in Automated Mailroom Services (AMS), which can insert up to 10 sheets into 26,000 envelopes per hour. (Above) Senior AMS Manager Rick Willmann, left, shows a roll-fed printer to Jasper Schneider, VP Member and Industry.