Antonio Leone, ANZ marketing manager at OKI Data Australia, and formerly with Acer and Epson, told iTWire in an interview that an annual printer review was also an opportunity to examine exactly how much was being spent on printing across all devices.
By making relatively small changes, total annual printing costs can be significantly reduced, he said.
“The term paperless office can be misleading, as it implies an absence of paper. If this was the goal, we’re not there yet. Old habits die hard - some people feel more comfortable if they can review and/or consume data and documents in printed rather than on-screen, as it provides more tangibility. Printing is far from dead," he said.
Leone listed the following key factors in a printer review:
As the cost of office printers has declined, it's become easier for workgroups, departments and even individuals to acquire their own devices.
These literally become territorial possessions as humorously shown in a recent season 14, episode 5 of NCIS where special agent Timothy McGee tries to teach ”probie” Torres the ways of the toner before warning him to stay away from his own printer, which is precisely calibrated to his liking. Naturally.
Torres moves on to Abby’s printer, breaking it in the process. She’s not pleased, although she does warn him away from McGee’s printer. Since he broke Abby’s printer, he got her a new one to use while it’s being repaired. She’s pleased, especially because “It’s the same kind McGee has!” And of course, we cut to McGee discovering his pride and joy is missing.
The moral of that segue is that a business can find itself with many more printers in place than are actually required.
Step 1 - create an exhaustive list of all printers currently being used – the baseline.
Step 2 – calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of each. It is easy to get toner and consumable costs, page counts, and amortise the purchase cost to calculate TCO and real page cost. These days’ efficient printers have mono printing of a cent or so and colour at a few cents. Consumer grade printers can cost up to 25 cents a page for mono and up to a dollar a page for colour.
Step 3 – develop user placement policy. Is it best to mandate one printer or many printers for a workgroup (defined as several people in proximity) or even a whole floor?
Step 4 – look at need. Does every printer need to be multifunction (MFP) printer that scans, copies, prints and faxes, does it need A3, does it need facilities like auto-duplex, does it need to be colour, how fast etc? The result will define whether you choose a dedicated laser, LED, or inkjet printer to match needs.
OKI has found that in most cases it is simpler, greener and less expensive to consolidate. Simply replacing consumer grade, slow, high-cost inkjet printers with a smaller number of high-speed printers saves print costs, energy, and floor space.
Once you have done this also consider going to a managed print service (MPS) where dealers can provide the right printer for the task on a user-pays, per-page cost covering all consumables, maintenance and even replacement and upgrade – move CAPEX to OPEX.
Print management and tracking software pays for itself
Use software tools to assist with their efficient management. A good SMB product is PaperCut that allows codes to be used for personal or client accounting jobs.
The software often operates via a web browser and allows authorised personnel, such as IT staff, department heads or office managers, to readily locate, set up, observe and maintain all printers in the fleet.
Analysing the data collected can also be used to discourage unnecessary printing and reduce waste. The software can provide real-time status information such as print usage, the number of colours or mono printouts, paper type and size and provides a tool for management and reordering of consumables.
The software also allows managers to place restrictions on the way printers are used, such as providing access to authorised individuals or groups only. Some software even allows pre-defined cost limits to be set be set. Once this limit is met, the printer refuses access to users. This inevitably makes users think twice before printing.
You don’t always need colour
These days we all assume that colour printing is standard. But a massive cost saving can come from printing drafts in mono or at a lower resolution.
Having controls in place over who can make colour prints and in what quantities can go a long way towards reducing office operational costs. Whether software-enforced or simply established as a company policy, it's a good idea to ensure that staff understand what is allowed and what is discouraged.
For example, just as many organisations refuse access to social media during work hours, printing policies may stipulate restrictions on the use of colour printers for personal items such as pictures and emails.
Consumables – generic versus original
I don’t want to buy into the FUD surrounding generic versus original supplies.
Generic consumables often find their way into organisations via ad-hoc orders placed on stationery suppliers. They may reduce operational (OPEX) costs. If it works for you then great.
Original consumables can cost more but ultimately if you use analytics you can do two things. First, you can see TCO over the life of the printer and secondly it enables you to buy in bulk or buy XL (extended life) consumables that work out far cheaper.
My experience is that genuine consumables reduces TCO and increase reliability. Ask any MPS and they will always use original consumables for fewer problems.
In any case, the days of commercial printer makers needing to sell printers to consume expensive ink or toner are all over – it is all about print quality, reliability and cost.