By Heinrich Pretorius, OKI Product Specialist at DCC
When selecting a business printer, decisions are often based on cost alone, without thought to the specific business requirements and volumes of printing that are required. While it may seem less expensive to buy a less costly printer, if these and other factors are not taken into account, the total cost of ownership (TCO) could end up far exceeding the initial savings. Choosing a business printer requires careful consideration and a number of areas should be examined to ensure maximum value, productivity and efficiency.
Although there is a global trend towards reducing printing in order to become more environmentally friendly and work towards a lower carbon footprint, the paperless office is far from a reality. Contracts, business cards and other essential documents still need to be physically printed, and the printer remains a vital piece of office equipment. Purchasing a printer based on pricing alone and not workload requirements can lead to premature failure of the printer. This adds to the costs as new printers must be purchased more frequently. This can also result in reduced productivity within the office due to a number of factors, including slow print speeds and the need to constantly replace consumables.
Choosing the right printer requires an understanding of business needs and requirements. The first and foremost consideration is the volume of printing. If high print volumes are required, it is essential to purchase a printer that can cope with this need. A good way of gauging this is to look at the duty cycle of the printer, which gives you an indication of the volumes the printer can handle on a monthly basis. Workhorse printers can often handle up to 200 000 pages per month, which will ensure the printer does not fail due to overuse.
Print volumes also relate to the toner and paper trays of the printer. Printing large numbers of documents with low or standard yield toner cartridges means that these consumables will need to be replaced frequently. This is not only an additional expense, but can also prove to be time consuming, as cartridges need to be physically changed, and can add to administrative overhead with frequent reordering of supplies. High yield toner cartridges can offer up to 36 000 pages per cartridge, decreasing the cost per page and reducing admin. Paper input trays are another factor – if the printer can only hold 50 sheets of paper, this will need to be refilled frequently, further decreasing efficiency as time is spent on unproductive tasks. On workhorse enterprise printers the paper input trays can cater for up to 3000 sheets, which means the printer will not run out of paper often.
Some other factors to bear in mind include the number of users who need to access the device as well as print speeds and print quality. Many printers can now be easily networked, but businesses need to understand whether they need to be physically networked using an Ethernet cable to a server, or whether wireless networking is available. It is also critical to check the number of devices that can be networked to the printer.
In terms of speed, time to first print, the time taken by a printer to print and deliver the first page after receiving the print data from the computer, can have an impact on productivity, as if this is slow, users will be standing around waiting for their documents unnecessarily. Print speeds are also important since large documents can take a long time to print at low speeds. Enterprise-class printers can offer time to first print at 5 seconds, as well as up to 52 pages per minute, ensuring that large volumes of documents can be printed quickly and efficiently. Print quality is also critical, as professional documents need to reflect quality printing. Print resolutions of 1200x1200dpi ensure sharp, consistently clear documents and imaging.
Security is another factor that needs to be considered, particularly in large enterprises where sensitive documents are printed. It is important to have encryption functionality as well as secure networking. In addition, pin codes to release print jobs can ensure that unauthorised personnel cannot simply walk past the printer and pick up documents that are not theirs. For environmentally conscious organisations, eco-friendly features are also a consideration. These include the ability to print double-sided to reduce paper consumption, high capacity toner cartridges to reduce waste from consumables, toner save functions for draft documents, Energy Star certification and power save modes that can reduce power consumption when the printer is not in use.
Printers are an essential piece of office equipment in many businesses, and need to fit the business and its requirements if they are to deliver value. By taking into account print volumes, print speeds, networking, security and the features of the printer, organisations can ensure they purchase the right device for their needs, increasing value and lowering the total cost of ownership while maximising productivity and efficiency.