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In-line verification, reporting and tracking apparatus and method for mail pieces

Image Number 6 for United States Patent #6510992.

An apparatus for automatically acquiring and verifying, relative to pre-established rules, address information and postage value indicia on a face of each of a plurality of mail pieces. The mail pieces can be subsequently placed in a tray and a label is applied to the tray, the label imprinted with information which relates to the mail piece content of the tray. The apparatus includes an inserter adapted to insert documents into an envelope and seal the envelope to produce a finished mail piece or a sorter which conveys finished mail pieces, with the address information and postage value indicia visible on a face of each mail piece. An in-line module is disposed adjacent the inserter, the module including a path along which each finished mail piece is transported. The module includes a scale and an image capture device, the scale adapted to measure and record the weight or mass of each finished mail piece, and the image capture device adapted to capture an image of the address information on the face of each finished mail piece. A scanning device can be provided to acquire a representation of the information on the tray label. The scale, image capture device and, optionally, scanning device are electronically linked to a control processor device for controlling acquisition, storage and verification of the address information and postage value indicia on the finished mail piece and the information on the label. An image processing device is provided in communication with the control processor device, and is adapted to synchronize acquisition, storage and verification of the address information, postage value indicia and label information.

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