The hidden cost of device unreliability
Ask most businesses how much their print equipment costs them and they’ll likely be able to quote lease or purchase costs, the cost of consumables and any warranty or servicing contracts. Some businesses on managed print service contracts will more than likely be able to quote some form of cost per copy price too. But how many of us actually know how much we’re losing through printer downtime?
The ‘soft’ costs of printer failure are relatively difficult to quantify. Productivity loss due to printer downtime, time spent calling help desks, hours spent dealing with repair call-outs or on DIY fixes… the time and the costs soon add up.
Doing the maths
In real terms, what is the cost of printer unreliability? Take a paper-reliant law firm for example. A printer malfunction can take at least 10 minutes to solve – if you can fix it yourself. An unreliable printer might break down twice a day, which at an extremely conservative administration rate of £25/hour would cost £2,000 a year. If each malfunction takes 15 minutes, the cost shoots up to £3,000. And those figures assume admin staff are taking care of the issue and solicitors/lawyers can continue to work.
Add in the fact that multi-function printers (MFPs) tend to break down at inopportune moments – often when there’s a crucial deadline just around the corner or a big presentation to deliver – so it goes without saying that reliability is crucial.
Happily, there are ways buyers can learn more about the reliability of print devices:
- Buy a brand with a reputation for reliability. Independent research bodies such as Buyers Lab International conduct reliability tests – and publish the results. A quick internet search should highlight which brands are most reliable.
- Word of mouth is very important too – ask colleagues about their experiences with a given company and brand.
- A good warranty is a key indicator of quality, and can save you a good deal of money. Higher quality printers will tend to have longer warranties as well as on-site service agreements. Look for printers with on-site warranty support for two years or more.
- Look for long-life parts and construction. As well as being built for ultimate reliability – think hundreds of thousands of copies – it’ll mean fewer replacement consumables are needed and therefore less time spent fitting them into a device. For example, all Kyocera products use long-life components (which can include drum, developer or process unit) which are covered by a 3-year warranty from the date of purchase or until the long-life component’s design is reached, typically 100,000 to 600,000 pages, whichever comes first.
- Develop a fleet plan with some spare capacity. Ensure that if a printer/copier fails, then people that need to print or copy can fall back on another device without too much disruption.
- Look for a manufacturer and dealer with rapid service call response times. Sometimes it’s inevitable that a printer will break down and you’ll have to call in a vendor’s support team to fix it.
- Higher volume printer/copiers tend to be engineered for reliability, more so than cheaper printers. They also have lower costs per page. Total cost of ownership is more important than purchase price.
- Talk to the manufacturers and ask them about the technology they use and the warranty and support contract they offer.
Printer downtime can be hugely damaging to businesses of all types and sizes. However, with a bit of research and some careful acquisition, there’s no reason why downtime can’t be significantly reduced.