Submitted by Darin Marks, Resource Director, Production Solutions
Despite a recent Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) consolidation and restructuring, the Postal Service does in fact recognize its many antiquated and incoherent rules that are often difficult to discern. For that reason, the Mailpiece Design Analyst (MDA) position/department was developed several years ago to serve as a direct resource for design and compliance questions and cut down on some of the confusion within the mailing industry.
Since 2011, the Postal Service has restructured the department, developed a ticket-based help desk customer support system, consolidated the staff to 35 (nationally distributed), refined responsibilities and recently gave the industry more ways to communicate with the department. Until this past year, the biggest downside to the MDA program was that the Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) Clerks did not have access nor were they required to uphold an MDA ruling. Therefore, an MDA could approve a particular design/creative concept (pre-production) and a BMEU Clerk could reject it (post-production)!
Many Designers and Production Managers are unaware that the MDA Department offers an Enhanced Mailpiece Automation Compatibility (EMAC) Review Program, which provides written documentation for every automation-compatibility review conducted by an MDA. This includes an internal repository of mailpiece images that can be accessed by every BMEU throughout the nation. Thanks to this program, Designers and Production Managers can now obtain pre-production MDA approval that will be upheld at any BMEU, regardless of the clerk’s interpretations of the DMM.
The EMAC review provides an in-depth analysis of the following design elements:
- Physical Characteristics for Machinable and Automation Prices
- Elements on the face of a mailpiece
- Barcode Technical & Readability Specifications
The EMAC review requires that a mock-up or sample (either pre-production or post-production) be submitted to the MDA for review. In some cases, an electronic image may be acceptable. As with all MDA requests, the written results will be available within two business days of receipt of the physical sample. The results of the review will then be available for all BMEUs and the ruling is valid for the current mailing, as well as any subsequent mailings with the same format/design.
So, how can you get started? Simply fill out the Request for Mailpiece Design Analyst Assistance Form and send it to MDA@usps.gov. If your design request contains an actual mock-up or preproduction sample, the MDA receiving the ticket will contact you to provide their physical mailing address. If an electronic image is provided, the MDA will perform the evaluation based on the available elements present on the image. If no image or sample is available, the MDA will not be able to perform an EMAC review, but can provide general guidance based on the described design elements as specified in the mail design review request form.
Want to save yourself some time, money and aggravation – click here for more information regarding the MDA Customer Service Help Desk and the services they perform.