Porticos has supported Bell and Howell, a leading global provider of customer communication solutions, on many complex paper handling designs since establishing a relationship over five years ago.


The most recent of these multipart projects is the Solix™ Mail Tray Loader, which handles up to 30,000 envelopes an hour.  That equates to an impressive 150 inches of paper per second!

Anyone who has ever tried to collect a dropped stack of paper can relate to the fact that paper is notoriously difficult to control.  Some of the characteristics that make paper challenging to work with are its flexible structure, sensitivity to moisture, high piece-to-piece friction and relatively imprecise dimensional stability and tolerances.  The Solix™ product’s high operating speeds added a challenging level of complexity to the already difficult paper problems.

The design goals and paper characteristics were at the forefront of Porticos engineers’ minds as they worked through this project.  Always focused on service with development; Porticos worked side by side with Bell and Howell engineers to design, prototype, test and support the production ramp of the nearly 750 unique parts, assemblies and hardware that make up the Solix™.

Joe Zuech, VP of Inserting/OEM Engineering at Bell and Howell describes the relationship this way. “The level of service we get from Porticos is outstanding.  I continue to be impressed by the level of commitment they demonstrate to all aspects of our relationship.”

Unigraphics was used to create the 3D CAD and 2D detailed drawings while the Teamcenter PDM tool was utilized to ensure strict revision control of CAD databases.

The Solix trayThe final result is a product that Bell and Howell can use to promote the Solix™ system’s productivity over labor costs. The Solix™ Mail Tray Loader offers on-edge stacking and the capacity of up to five mail trays, which reduces the number of visits an operator makes to the delivery section of the system. With a single motion sweep, an operator can completely load a mail tray in as little as five seconds.

Another useful feature is the envelope offsetting capability, which allows operators to easily locate tray breaks, eliminating the time it takes to search for them.

A closeup of The Solix Tray

Click here to see a video of the Solix™ Mail Tray Loader in action.

The new Solix™ Mail Tray Loader is another example of how Porticos helps companies turn good ideas into great products.


About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos does “product design for the way we’re designed,” please visit www.porticos.net.


About Bell and Howell — Bell and Howell is a leading global provider of customer communication solutions, providing multi-channel messaging technologies for print, Web and mobile delivery. Headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., the company maintains development and manufacturing facilities in Wheeling, IL; Bethlehem, PA; Rochester, NY; Dallas, TX; and Waterloo, Canada. Bell and Howell dedicates themselves to drive positive growth for their customers, and their suite of solutions are designed to be open, flexible, solve unique customer needs, and enable the highest quality and lowest cost production of relevant business communications. To learn more about how Bell and Howell supports solutions as one of the largest dedicated service organizations in the industry, please visit http://www.bellhowell.net.

Bell and Howell, the Bell and Howell logo and Solix are trademarks or registered trademarks of Bell and Howell, LLC.