Technical rule 2011-12
There is a growing demand for postal operators to combine parts of their sorting automation equipment from different suppliers in order to optimise performance of this equipment. In the past, this has led to project-specific interfaces being negotiated between one postal operator and one or multiple suppliers. These project-specific interfaces were developed by the suppliers and maintained for an agreed period. This approach has several disadvantages: The interface is derived from an interface that was not intended to be open. The interface is developed for a single project and works only in the context of that project (extra costs). Each participating supplier has to implement the interface (multiple effort). Experience shows that integration of components with project-specific interfaces is complex and expensive. Project-specific interfaces are not integrated into the product line and once the initially agreed maintenance period is over it may be difficult and expensive to maintain and/or may hinder the adoption of equipment upgrades. This has led to "open interfaces" defined by one supplier. These still have the disadvantage of being in product use only by one supplier. Within a group of postal operators and suppliers it was decided to develop a set of "open standard interfaces" which will be developed by the suppliers and referred to by the postal operators. The benefits of these interfaces are expected to be that they: are fixed in an international standard (with change control); are agreed and implemented by major suppliers; are agreed by customers and therefore used in calls for tenders; will result in net savings with the high initial development effort and consequent higher basic equipment prices being more than offset by reduced project development, integration and maintenance costs; will minimize the need for project integration effort by reducing implementation timescales; will increase competition between suppliers by stimulating product improvements. This Technical Specification covers the interface between an image controller (IC), the scanner subsystem including the scanner related image processing (IP) devices and the machine control (MC) subsystem of postal automation equipment. One related standard is CEN/TS 15448, "Postal Services - Open Standard Interface between image controller and enrichment devices (OCRs, video coding systems, voting systems)." In the future, other work items (subject to agreement of CEN/TC 331 and the UPU Standards Board) will be defined to cover other areas as and when the need is identified and the resources for development become available. A separate project group for each interface will undertake the work. This Technical Specification describes the "Open Standard Interface between Image Processor, Machine Control and Image Controller" (IP/MC/IC Interface) in the context of postal automation equipment. It was agreed to unify the interfaces between: a) Image Processor and Image Controller; b) Image Processor and Machine Control and c) Machine Control and Image Controller and to produce one common specification for this so-called IP/MC/IC Interface. The communication partners of this interface will be called Machine or Machine Control (MC) on the one side and Reading/Coding (RC) System on the other side. There may be several instances of this interface, depending on the implementation of the MC and the connected RC.