A Multi-Function Printer print, scan, copy, fax, and even edit documents from one convenient hub. This has made them an office staple, leaving few reasons for an office to continue to purchase discrete devices for each activity.
Companies embrace multi-function devices because they increase device impact while decreasing their physical footprint. Multi-Function Printers increase company-wide productivity and revenue when strategically deployed in a printing fleet. Read on to learn how upgrading a company’s printer fleet to include these multi-function devices transforms productivity and profitability in the office.
How to Better Understand a Multi-Function Printer
There are many different terms for the device known as the multi-function printer. No standardized language exists, therefore the manufacturers are free to refer to their products as they like. In other words, there are several terms which appear in reference to MPS or similar devices:
- All-In-One (AIO): A device which has a full array of document management options. This includes printing, scanning, faxing, copying, document editing, storage, and conversion.
- Multi-function Device (MFD): May or may not be a printer, but likely has printing capabilities.
- Multi-function Peripheral or Product (MFP): Shares the acronym MFP with multi-function printer, but it may have different capabilities entirely. Read the product description carefully.
- 4-in-1 Printer: Typically refers to the main four functionalities: printing, scanning, copying, and faxing.
- Small Office/Home Office (SOHO): These printers are typically multi-function because their manufacturers assume that smaller operations have less space.
Upgraded Fleets Save Money and Increase Productivity
A printer is no small investment. Professional models run easily into the thousands of dollars, which may represent a significant expense for a business. It might be tempting to hold onto an outdated model as a result, but that could be augmenting operating expenses in the long run. Upgraded fleets save money and increase productivity because they:
1. Decrease Consumable Cost and Use
The older the printer, the more expensive consumables like ink and specialized paper stocks tend to get. This is partly because they get harder to find, and partly because manufacturers discontinue parts and supplies to encourage upgrading. Likewise, modern printers use toner and ink more efficiently. They also support duplex printing and support the option to print only in black and white.
2. Cost Less to Maintain
A single multi-function device is much easier to maintain than a horde of specialized devices. Additionally, multi-function printers are so common that most technicians will have likely seen the model before, making it easier to get a device serviced.
3. Supports Increased Integration
Most modern multi-function printers support Wi-Fi connectivity, which enables integration with other office devices. Users can easily access all of the device’s functionalities without ever leaving their computer. Likewise, mobile printing adds a new layer of flexibility and mobility to the workflow.
4. Modern Multi-Function Printer Features Make Printing Easy
Multi-function printers are notoriously easy to use. The users do not have to go digging around in complicated interfaces to find the print button. Intuitive color touchscreens direct users to exactly where they need to go. Automatic document feeders eliminate the need to fiddle with the machine.
Install Print Tracking Software
Upgrading the printer itself is only one way to save money and boost productivity. Offices which already have a reasonably modern printer may wish to implement another strategy to boost productivity and reduce costs: print tracking software.
Print tracking software, such as PaperCut or uniFLOW helps businesses get a better handle on their expenses and printing habits. Print tracking software allows businesses to:
- Automate reporting which makes tracking seamless
- Gain total visibility of the printing costs for an organization
- Highlight areas of improvement for optimizing fleets and individual printer use
- Manage consumables to help reduce costs
- Restrict access to the print environment so only the people who need to print can do so
Upgrade Your Printing Environment Today With A Multi-Function Printer
Modern businesses frequently operate on razor-thin margins, making any cost reduction potentially valuable. An optimized office print environment helps boost productivity, while reducing costs.
PaperKarma estimates that the average office worker uses close to 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. That is the equivalent of 20 reams of standard office paper, or about 100 pounds of paper worth close to $200 per year. This article has outlined many of the ways that occur and has provided strategies to begin the optimization process.
Through the thoughtful deployment of modern printing devices, plus print tracking software, businesses can reduce this cost. Contact RJ Young today to begin strategizing your next-generation printing fleet which cuts costs while boosting productivity.
In the age of digital files and communication, printed materials still play a big role in the vast majority of businesses. Everything from posters to flyers to brochures is used extensively to help a business grow and compete within their industry. However, the cost of outsourcing printing has many businesses thinking twice about placing their next order. Is outsourcing these print jobs the way to go, or should businesses seek to bring their printing needs in-house with production printing equipment?
There are a number of considerations at play here for businesses to examine. Cost is the most obvious concern for any business, but there is much more to the equation than just dollars and cents. Both options carry their own pros and cons. The better a company understands them, the easier it will be to make the best possible choice for their unique needs.
Comparing the Costs
Every business from small mom-and-pop shops to multinational corporations must adhere to a budget. Money does not grow on trees and printing budgets are no exception to the rule. In the past, outsourcing printing has often been seen as the more budget-friendly option, but that is beginning to change in the minds of business owners facing higher printing costs.
Part of this increase in the cost of outsourcing printing is that print providers have increased costs themselves, and then these costs are passed on to customers. For examples, USPS has reported increasing their rates on shipping. This means that printing companies must adjust their own rates to reflect the new costs their budgets must absorb.
However, building a printing production facility from the ground up is also a costly investment. Businesses that do not have the capital to purchase or lease their own production printing equipment may find that outsourcing continues to be their best option.
Ultimately, in-house printing equipment is an investment that will pay off down the line. Companies that want to bring their printing needs in-house may face high upfront costs, but will see savings as they print more and more materials. Businesses that don’t have the capital for this investment or do not feel they will use the production printers to their full potential may benefit most from using an outsourced print provider.
What Materials Are Being Printed?
Businesses that decide to handle printing in-house must carefully examine what kind of materials will be printed and if the volume will justify having the equipment on-hand. Printing small posters or brochures may be feasible for businesses, but other items, like large banners or window decals, may require specialized equipment that will not be used frequently enough to justify the cost.
Sometimes, businesses may want to consider a combination of in-house and outsourced printing solutions. In-House production printing equipment can handle the basic, high volume jobs while outsourced printing equipment is perfect for more niche jobs.
Who Will Manage the Printing and Design?
Depending on the needs of the business and the size of the operation, in-house designers and managers that focus on the printing needs of the business may be necessary. One huge benefit of this arrangement is that the business has complete control over their materials and campaigns from beginning to end.
However, the obvious downside to choosing this route is the cost and effort that goes into hiring and maintaining this kind of staff. Consider a professional in-house graphic designer. According to Indeed, they could command a wage of nearly $20 per hour. When outsourced printing, the costs and logistics are managed by the print provider. Since they service multiple clients, the cost of staff is essentially spread out, which helps keep printing costs low.
The ultimate question to ask is whether or not a business wants to take on this kind of responsibility associated with in-house print production. High-volume printers with unique needs may feel the cost is justified, while lower volume businesses may not be willing to take on that kind of expense.
Who Has the Control of Timelines?
Bringing control of printing in-house versus using outsourced print providers can have numerous benefits and downsides. One important consideration is timelines. In-house print production means that the business is absolutely in control of the turnaround time needed for a project. This is one of the main advantages of in-house production compared to outsourcing. There are no other clients being serviced and, as a result, the job can be completed on schedule.
Of course, the risks of timelines and schedules can be mitigated by placing orders with outsourced print providers well in advance. What a business must ask is how valuable complete control and rapid turnaround is to them. Most outsourced providers deliver quality work quickly, but nothing can beat the scheduling benefits of printing services being brought in-house.
Outsourced and In-House Production Printing Equipment: Two Great Options
There is no right or wrong way to do printing. There are many advantages of in-house production while the cost of outsourcing printing simply cannot be beaten for businesses that do a lower volume of printing.
To learn more about the benefits of printing services and production printing equipment, and whether or not printing should be brought in-house or left to an outsourced print provider, contact RJ Young today.
The multi-function printer is designed to do it all: printing, scanning, and copying in color or grayscale. However, with the immense selection of printers available, how does an organization decide which is best? The answer depends on an organization’s printing needs and habits. Outlined below are the pros and cons of an inkjet or laser multi-function printer for business use.
Inkjet vs. Laser: What Is the Difference?
Inkjet and laser printing are two different types of printing technologies. Understanding this explains why they produce different printing results.
Inkjet printers print tiny dots of different color inks which are combined on paper, creating a wide range of colors. When printing photograph-quality images on regular paper from an inkjet printer, the print may still feel wet for several minutes since there is no heat, or an alternative method, to set the ink.
Conversely, laser printers use the same basic technology as photocopiers. A laser scans back and forth over a photoconductive drum, creating regions of static. The regions of static allow particles of toner to stick to it. When paper rolls under the drum, toner transfers to it. The fuser then binds the toner to the paper with heat, producing a dry printed product.
When an Inkjet Multi-Function Printer Is Best
Modern inkjets offer stunning color quality and flexible paper options. However, these capabilities far surpass what most businesses need. Choose an inkjet only when both needs exist:
1. Photo-Quality Color Printing
Companies that routinely print gallery or photo-quality color images may be served best by an inkjet printer. They easily print vibrant images with depth and clarity.
While recent advances in technology have led to the color inkjet multi-function printer becoming more efficient than their predecessors, inkjet printing still costs more than laser printing. Inkjet printers are not recommended as the sole printer for offices that also print business documents on a regular basis.
2. Printing on Multiple Types of Paper
Inkjet multi-function printers handle a wider range of paper types than many laser printers. Media stock is not made to withstand the heat from the fuser in a laser printer. It could melt, damaging the hardware along with the printed items. Similarly, paper stocks of certain textures may not allow enough heat in the grooves to properly bond the toner polymers.
Users should always look for products labeled as compatible for laser printers, whereas the result is more consistent with inkjet printers, no matter the paper type or stock.
When a Laser Multi-Function Printer Is Best
Laser printers remain an office staple, offering speed and efficiency to businesses that print or copy documents frequently, or in large amounts. Companies will find that laser multi-function printers and copiers are the most economical solution in their operations.
1. Crisp Printing
Businesses that primarily print office documents rely on laser printers for their ability to quickly produce clean, precise lines for fine text and form style printing. This precision stems from the use of toner. Composed of electrically sensitive polymers that immediately fuse to paper in the presence of heat, toner is a far more conservative material than ink from inkjet cartridges and lasts much longer.
For office settings, laser printers offer serious advantages in comparison to inkjet printers, where ink dots may bleed and spread in paper fibers, or where the ink does not dry fast enough, resulting in the inability to print batches of paper at one time.
2. Rapid and Double-Sided Printing
Most modern laser printers come standard with automatic document feeders with duplex printing. Here, toner is fused in one layer and dried immediately, delivering the ability to print on both sides without impacting clarity. Duplex printing gives offices the opportunity to dramatically reduce the amount of paper they use, purchase, and process. This is still not a standard feature on inkjets. Double-sided printing can be done manually by reloading prints into the paper tray of an inkjet printer; however, print quality often plummets because the ink penetrates and bleeds through to the other side.
Despite their complicated process, laser printers print much faster than inkjets. While inkjets may put several layers of ink down, laser printers only place one layer. Laser printers are also made to withstand heavier office use and built with stronger engines to produce higher output in less time.
Laser Multi-Function Printers Improve Business Productivity
Today’s multi-function printer offers a range of features and sophistication, including automatic document feeders, color touchscreens, and Bluetooth connections to mobile devices. Modern multi-function printers strive to simplify the modern office with its efficiency and ability to meet every need.
Laser multi-function printers offer the widest range of applications while remaining the most cost-effective. Models such as the HP Color Laserjet Pro multi-function printer, produce professional quality printing.
If photographic-quality color printing on a non-traditional stock is not a requirement, a laser printer more effectively balances long-term costs with print quality.
Choose RJ Young for Your Multi-Funcation Printer
Buying or leasing the right laser multi-function printer can significantly impact a business’s productivity. Start a conversation today with an office technology expert to determine the best choice for you.
The multifunction printer is the lifeblood of many businesses. These versatile devices offer more than just basic printing functions. They can be used to help businesses become more efficient and productive. Of course, all of that depends on finding the best all-in-one printer for small business. Do you know how to choose a printer for small business?
The right device for the right situation can make all of the difference. However, finding the right device can prove to be a challenge for businesses that are unsure of what to look for. Do you know how to choose a printer for small business? With so many new features and sleek design elements packed into modern multifunction printers – how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one?
4 Steps to Choosing the Best Multifunction Printer for Business
Fortunately, making the right decision about how to choose a printer for your small business comes down to understanding the most important features to look for and defining an office’s unique needs. All of this can be done in just four simple steps.
1. Make A Budget
Budgets are important for all companies, from the smallest businesses to the largest corporations. So, it follows that the best printer for office use must also fit within the budget. Thankfully, multifunction printers span a wide range of prices. However, companies have to look beyond just the initial cost of the device to get a true sense of the cost of the printer. This means companies must decide if they want to purchase their printers outright or to lease. The purchase vs lease debate is an ongoing one with benefits to both options. A business with a limited upfront budget may be able to get the high-quality device they need by leasing, while a business with more cash on hand may opt to pay for the entire purchase price upfront. Companies must also understand the costs that will be incurred down the road.
- What kind of warranty is included?
- How much does it cost to operate the printer?
- How much will print supplies cost?
Only after a business answers these questions will they completely understand the total cost of a multifunction printer.
2. Identify Important Features
When choosing an all-in-one laser printer, buyers will notice that these devices come with a suite of incredible features. Some features may be an absolute requirement for business while others may not be as important. Identifying necessary features is the best way to quickly narrow down the selection. This will also help avoid costly printers that may include superfluous features not required by the business.
While many printer brands may offer similar features, they often have their own methods of introducing these features. Is the feature built into the printer or does it require additional software to be installed on laptops, smartphones, and tablets? Will this software be compatible with existing devices? Does the software cost extra?
3. Look for Productivity and Workflow Improvements
According to BizTech Magazine, one of the greatest opportunities when choosing a new office printer is to implement workflow and productivity improvements using the features and software offered by the multifunction printer’s manufacturer. Today, the qualities of a good printer go far beyond simply printing clear text or images onto a page. Users want to be able to save files directly to the cloud from their printer, access those documents on their mobile device, and print documents even when they are away from the office.
Many modern printers also come with touchscreens built in which allow users to preview images before printing or scanning to ensure the work is up to the quality that they expect. Some devices are even able to translate foreign languages after scanning. Determine which workflow improvements are needed and then begin searching for devices that are able to deliver those improvements without breaking the budget.
4. Efficiency Is Important
People are more aware of their environmental footprint than ever before. Not only is sustainable printing helpful for the environment, it can also look good on a company’s bottom line. Many printers offer sustainability and efficiency features that can help reduce waste and cut down on costs. This is definitely something businesses should mention to sales representatives when the shopping process begins if their business is striving to meet new efficiency goals.
We Know How to Choose A Printer For Small Business
There is no one perfect printer out there. Instead, the best printer for office use depends on the company and its unique requirements.
Almost every company has an old office printer that isn’t working the way it should. Perhaps it’s showing signs that it is coming to the end of its life or maybe it’s time for a new business copier with better, more modern features. In either case, shopping for a new business printer can seem like a daunting task for organizations that haven’t been in the market for a while. The office printer has come a long way in the last few years and the amount of features a new multifunction printer offers may come as a surprise.
Connectivity is King in Today’s Office
There was a time when all an office printer had to do was print. Today, an office printer is a hub for productivity. Printing is just one of the many tasks people expect their new multifunction printer to perform.
One important feature to look for is connectivity to apps or services. Cloud storage has grown in popularity and many printer manufacturers recognize this. If team members use one of the top cloud storage services, then a new multifunction printer will most likely be able to connect with that service. However, team leaders will want to confirm the printer’s ability to connect prior to making a final decision.
Connecting with these services can save a company both time and money. Scanning documents for easy sharing on cloud storage drives can boost productivity and reduce the need for printing multiple copies for the next big meeting. Being able to pull documents directly from the cloud for printing is also much easier than downloading the document to a computer, printing, and then walking to the printer to pick up the document.
How Much Work Does an Office Printer Do?
Small business copiers and printers come in all shapes and sizes to meet the needs of a wide range of businesses. Printers often have a pages per minute (ppm) measurement as a part of their spec sheet. This number can help determine the right printer for a growing business.
For example, an office printer in a small office of three people who only print a few pages per hour is not the same office printer deployed in an office with 15 people who print much more throughout the day. Consider team needs for printing, and then look for the small business printers that most closely satisfy those needs.
For light printing needs, this simple exercise could prevent a company from spending unnecessary money on a printer that is overkill for their office. For heavy users, finding the right printer to handle output will save them from a lot of future stress and frustration.
Go For the Touch Screen
Having a bright, beautiful touch screen on a new multifunction printer is an absolutely essential feature with today’s printers. Touch screen technology is now standard in almost every consumer tech product and most users are as familiar with a touch display as they are with their keyboards.
In addition, with so many features packed into a new multifunction printer, quick and easy access to complete the task at hand is vital. A touch screen allows users to quickly find the feature they need, complete their request, and move on to the next job.
Most importantly, touch screens are customizable. IT professionals can set the screen to show the features and services most frequently used, so that most tasks only require a few taps.
How Does It Integrate with Mobile Technology?
So much business is now done using smartphones and tablets. In fact, 77% of Americans own a smartphone and 92% of Americans aged 18 to 29 own one. Being able to seamlessly send documents from a mobile device to a new business copier or printer is an essential feature for small business printers that promise improved productivity.
If an office operates on a smartphone just as much they do on a laptop or computer, then being able to print from a phone should be near the top of a most wanted features list. In addition, this allows mobile or remote employees to print to the office multifunction printer without actually having to stop into the office.
Still Searching for the Perfect Office Printer?
Keep the current needs of the team in mind when searching for a multifunction device, but also consider where the department or company will go in the future. Will cloud storage become a part of the business, or is mobile functionality important? Buying a new business copier is a big decision that affects the productivity of a team for the foreseeable future. Making the right choice is important to ensure that workflows run even more smoothly than before.
Still wondering which multifunction printer is right for you? Contact us at RJ Young to speak with an expert product advisor who can help you narrow down your business copier options and select the perfect device for your needs.
Considering their significance, meters are one of those things that often don’t get the spotlight they deserve. That said, here is some information that could potentially save you some money and headache when it comes to a meter.
What is a meter?
Inside of every copier and printer, there’s a meter that counts how many pages have been printed from that machine. Whether from a copy, fax, or printed document, your equipment is keeping tally of its life’s work. These numbers are referred to as meter readings, and are used for a variety of things by both the customer and the vendor.
What are meter readings used for?
The service industry relies on these readings to accurately bill customers for the amount of prints they’ve made. Sales Specialists use them to identify which machines best fit customer’s needs. Customers report meters to their vendor for accurate billing, and can use them to keep up with their own volume.
Shopping for pre-owned equipment?
If so, take a look at the meter reading on the pre-owned equipment before making the leap. A worn-out copier won’t get you very far, and could do some major damage to your wallet. Be leery of vendors or websites who don’t want to disclose meter readings on used equipment.
Our Certified Pre-Owned machines have low meter counts, and come with the We Make It Right™ Guarantee, so you can rest assured, knowing we’ve got you covered. Additionally, age should be taken into consideration. Once a machine hits a certain age, it can be hard to find a vendor who’ll actually put a service contract on it. They know that doing so would make them liable for a machine that they can no longer support or get parts for. Basically, an old copier/printer is like an old car – the older it is, the harder (and costlier) it is to maintain and find parts and compatible supplies. In the end, it can end up costing you more than a brand-new machine.
What does this mean for me?
- Keep your service invoices accurate by ensuring your meters are reported on a routine basis- either by entering them through your online account, manually submitting them, or setting up an automatic service.
- Keep a meter history log to use to ensure the contracted volume on your service plan is set appropriately. If you have an online account, you can access your meter history there, as well.
- If shopping for pre-owned equipment, check the meter reading. You can compare that reading to what the manufacturer shows the duty cycle to be, to see if the current meter seems high. Your Sales Specialist can help with this, as well.
If you want to learn more about meters, or need assistance finding the reading on your machine, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Copier meters were originally calculated on the old-style counter devices, with rolling digits. Each time a page was printed, the counter would roll, adding one to its total. When it did this, it made a clicking sound. Even with today’s technology, our industry still refers to pages printed as ‘clicks’.
Copiers and multifunctional devices come in a wide variety of sizes, capabilities and prices. Deciding on the best option for your organization is an important decision and investment. You’ve painstakingly combed through features of the various manufacturers for each machine and made the best selection. Now what? Choosing the device is only half of the equation. Most people don’t realize what’s involved after deciding upon your copier is just as important as selecting the device itself. We’ve rounded up some of the top questions asked about purchasing or leasing a copier and answered them below.
Top 5 Questions to Ask Once You’ve Selected a Copier
1. What are the benefits of leasing instead of buying?
Purchasing means just that—you own the equipment outright and it’s yours to keep. As office technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, equipment can become quickly outdated. Leasing allows for flexibility as your business changes and grows. For maximum flexibility, look for a partner that offers true in-house leasing, which means that company owns the lease to your equipment, this helps ensure that you will have functioning equipment best suited to your changing business needs.
2. How is service and support provided?
Timely, customer-oriented service ensures quick, expert responses for the life of any equipment. You want every aspect of service to be as efficient and customer-oriented as possible, including the technician compensation. Ensure technicians are compensated for your productivity, not for how many problems that you have. Technicians should be top-level certified from the manufacturer. A good technician will have anytime access to manufacturer websites, parts availability, machine histories and call information to make the most of every service visit.
3. Is training provided?
Whether you are looking to set up your new office printer or more complex multifunctional device, proper training and onboarding can help your organization become more productive and effective. Ensure adequate training is provided to ensure you now how to utilize your equipment to get day-to-day work done more efficiently.
4. How does the invoice/billing process work?
If you’ve chosen to lease equipment, most contracts begin on the date of equipment delivery. Invoices can be monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually, depending on the terms of your contract. Readings for overage billings can be requested automatically by email/fax, reconciled on a quarterly basis or by using free software available on networked devices. Most often, many contracts missing meters five days beyond the contract bill date are estimated based on contracted usage, or using service call readings. Invoices are mailed and payments can be made by check, or processed as soon as billing occurs with a credit card or automatic bank draft.
5. What types of guarantees are offered?
You will be shocked by what some companies include in the fine print. If you plan to lease equipment, you owe it to yourself and your company to read the fine print carefully. Beware of third-party lenders and “Hell or High Water” clauses. Before you sign an office equipment lease, ask for a guarantee—in writing—that it is not a “Hell or High Water” lease. If you can’t get this guarantee written into your lease agreement, don’t sign it.
Knowing what to ask your office equipment dealer once the equipment is selected offers peace of mind that you are getting the most for your business dollars and in your office equipment. Look for an office equipment dealer that helps strategically design your office to run efficiently and boost your productivity.
Kelsey Brewer, Account Representative
Kelsey is passionate about building relationships and understanding new technologies to better herself and her customers’ success. She attended Calhoun Community College and is an Active Ambassador with the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce. Kelsey services the Cullman and Morgan County areas and works from the Huntsville, AL office location.
Most everyone who uses a multifunction device is familiar with scanning. Scanning allows us to distribute information more effectively than a traditional copier. It is typically sent to another email address, your email address, and/or a folder.
While scanning is effective, there are some limitations to the scan-to-folder and scan-to-email process. First thing that comes to mind is the email typically is from an odd name, as in the name of the multifunction device’s email address. While this can be changed, it tends to be cumbersome. Secondly, the name of the file is usually the time and date of the scan. Not exactly made to be easily found. In addition, the format of the document, which is PDF, cannot be edited or changed without desktop software to change the format. And finally, the sender doesn’t have a record of the email he or she sent out from the device.
We have several tools that can essentially be bolted on our multifunction devices to help solve these challenges.
Imagine authenticating at the device so it knows who you are. This could be through a username and password or perhaps a badge. Since the device knows who you are, you can have access to your address book, not what was listed on the device. We can send an email with your name on it and you would have record of it in your email. Also, we now have the ability to name our documents in a more user-friendly name such as “Invoice number 123” vs the time and date stamp. Lastly, we can enable users to change the format of the document from PDF to Microsoft Word allowing recipients the ability to make changes.
Ask your RJ Young rep more about these features. If you aren’t a current customer feel free to give us a call. We would be happy to analyze your business needs.
Mark Turner, Director of Software Sales
Mark is responsible for the software sales and implementation teams. He has worked for RJ Young since 2013. Combined he has over 16 years of experience in the industry where 9 years were in IT and 7 years were in software. Mark works out of our Nashville, TN office and is originally from Montgomery, Alabama. In his spare time he volunteers for the United Way and enjoys kayaking, photography and craft beer.
The advent of the digital age created a complete change for the office equipment industry. Up until the digital era it was not uncommon to find an office work area that included multiple analog devices that worked independent of the network. As the roll out of digital products became available companies began to acquire separate copiers, facsimiles, scanners, and printers. This transition of new digital products began to open up the opportunity for the network to become the hub for all devices.
Products could now be connected to the network and all devices became integrated and were no longer just single function. At the same time this transition was taking place, manufacturers began to produce devices that were termed all-in-one or Multi-Functional Devices (MFD). These MFDs allow the office user to have one machine that would copy, print, scan, and fax. This increased efficiency, reduced costs, and most importantly took less space.
Since the network was considered the hub, it was easy to see how with these devices now connected, other efficiencies became possible. These MFDs now became more than just an output device but also became the on ramp for the network. The end user in addition to copying and printing could now began to scan hardcopy files and transmit them through the network. This ability also increased the need for digital information management and a system to file, sort, and locate these digital documents.
With the total integration of products, the ability to move documents around the network, and software to manage the digital documents, we have seen business processes and workflow become very efficient. Today’s office is experiencing less of a need to rely on hard copy output but more on digital output. There has also been a shift to move documents to the Cloud which provides increased security and the ability to collaborate on projects. All of this would not be possible if it were not for digital. Evaluate the use of the MFDs in your office. Are these MFDs being used as ramps to productivity and efficiency in the digital age or still only output devices.
Hunter McCarty – COO
As the technology available in the office equipment industry evolves and ties much closer to the networks that serve our business functions, it becomes more obvious that there are multiple decisions to be made. As a very interested observer of what trends I see that are taking place within our customer base, I feel compelled to provide a few of these options for today’s buyer to consider when making a buying decision. More often than not I see the customer becoming shortsighted and only buying the technology for today’s immediate needs.
When offered a choice between two alternatives, most people tend to select the least expensive choice or the option that fits the bill for today. The problem with this method is that most of today’s office equipment will be in place from three to five years of useful life and our needs will change much faster than that. So in essence we are making a technology decision today that we may have to live with for several years and not fit the future of the business, which is rapidly changing.
One of the first decisions that customers must make is “Do you want a color enabled device or just a monochrome device?” The cost of color-enabled devices has dropped dramatically as well as the price of color output per page. Most companies will set a black and white monthly minimum contract for service and supplies at a very competitive rate per page and allow a customer to pay for color pages only as they are made. In this situation you do not pay for color unless you are making color copies. I believe having the color-enabled capability is very important and the trend shows about 40% of the products that we place are colored enabled. This number is moving very quickly to a 50/50 split. Color output is on the increase and adding it makes perfectly good business sense.
The next decision involves facsimiles and whether to put a fax board on the newly acquired equipment or continue to use a stand-alone facsimile device. Again the relative investment in a fax board is very low and the advantage of having the facsimile pages deliver through your Multiple Function Product (MFP) not only lowers operating cost but also reduce the carbon footprint. Again we see the trend toward more fax boards and fewer and fewer facsimiles being placed. In addition, our study shows that facsimile pages in general are being reduced quickly by electronic delivery of documents to the desktop or even via facsimile software. In many cases the end user never has to print out the document but only reviews it for information and content. The decision to add a fax board to a MFP device almost becomes a no brainer when configuring your new equipment.
A third decision is what I like to say, ” to scan or not to scan”. As we have fully moved into the digital age, I see more and more need for documents to be in digital format or transmitted in digital format and attached to emails. The ability to transfer documents in this manner has obviously led to the demise of the facsimile machine, but also allows the documents to be retained in a format that can be stored and retrieved as needed. I see more equipment being requested with the scan feature as customers realize the value in document movement and storage. It is not unusual to see customers not purchasing the scan feature and then within several months they are contacting us to see if we can add the option since their business processes have changed. I caution customers to not be short sighted when making the scanner decision.
The last decision is often based on whether or not the customer wants to print to the MFP device or send documents to a separate network printer. This is one area where the printer has often won over the end user because of convenience or proximity to the workstation. I believe if given a choice, every employee within a company would want a separate printer on their desk. The disadvantage to these separate printers is the higher cost of the page output and the increased number of devices in the office. With the current economic conditions, I have see companies taking a closer look at expenses and making a genuine attempt to reduce the fleet of printers and move more prints to MFP devices. In one case we have a healthcare facility that has mandated that the fleet be reduced by 50 printers per year over a five-year period. Think about that reduction of a total of 250 printers and the related cost reduction. This is a trend I see but only when the company is willing to make the sacrifice of cost over convenience. When the decision is made in favor of cost reduction we see better utilization of device management.
These are just a few of the many decisions and options that we have with today’s office technology products. On a personal note as I get older somehow I seem to get a little wiser. I find that it often pays to pay for a little more than you need today because tomorrow will come faster than you think and you will regret the price of tomorrow.