Machine Operator at Royal Joh. Enschedé
Alex van Tongeren
Alex van Tongeren is a 3rd generation RJE employee. But where his father and grandfather worked with printing presses for banknotes, Alex now runs one of the more recent machines, especially for stamps.
Incidentally, Alex himself also started “on the banknotes”, but after a 12-year leave he has been back at Koninklijke Joh. Enschede. He decided to return, because working with securities such as stamps remains special to him. “There aren’t that many companies that can do this and I still love making these products.”
The machine where Alex can be found is in the middle of the hall and is the only machine that can print Datamatrix and QR codes with unique numbering. Alex continues: “The adjustment of such a machine requires precision and after the machine was delivered, it still took a few months to test and get the adjustment to 100%. I also followed an extra training of about 4 weeks, because it is really a special piece of equipment.”
Both the DMC (Datamatrix Code) and the QR code (Quick Response code) are variants of the barcode. Such a code contains data for, for example, postal processing or customs. Each stamp with such a unique code is sent past an electronic eye at the sorting center and read. This checks all documents and letters with a code that has not been issued by the postal organization or that has been used before are automatically removed. This prevents fraud.
Because it is precision work, the machine is equipped with various cameras that can quickly check whether the DM or QR codes are readable. “We print tens and tens of thousands of stamps a day, which have to meet very high requirements,” says Alex. “For each order we have to set up the machine completely “tailor-made”. Not only for printing, but also for delivery, because one customer wants it on rolls with a number on the back for every five or ten stamps, and the other customer wants it on sheets.”
Because postal organizations increasingly use QR codes and data matrix codes for stamps, Alex has plenty of work to do. “It seems simple, keeping a machine running,” concludes Alex. “But you really have to set up the machine every order, pay constant attention, and ensure that perfectly printed, unique stamps are delivered at the end. That makes my work special.”