When investing in the right print solution for your office make sure you know what parts will be needed, where to get them from and how long they will take to get. The parts that are needed to replace broken parts in your printer if that time comes and the parts that will need to be replaced when preventative maintenance comes around.
Most replacements you will hear of will be IUs (Imaging Units), Transfer Belts, Fusers & Rollers. If you are thinking that I have forgotten about toner, developer and drums you are right, but for a good reason. These are classed as consumables and in most cases are covered under a maintenance agreement, we will discuss this in more detail in another article.
I am sure you have either yourself, or someone you know, been in a position where their office printer or copier had broken down out of the blue, called the service line of the servicing company, waited for the technician to arrive, only to diagnose the problem and not have the parts on hand for it. Sound familiar? If it sounds too familiar perhaps you need to look at receiving your service elsewhere or going in to business with another vendor.
Let's face it, copier & printers do jam, they do break down and they do need service & if anyone tells you otherwise they need to watch what they say because if I can go of any of my previous experiences with print solution salespeople who have overstated certain performance features and under delivered are quickly uncovered & generally find themselves working in another industry and profession quicker than they would have hoped.
There is a reason for preventative maintenance on your MFDs and printers, and it is a very important one. Just like cars, and I do love using them as an analogy for print solutions, you need to maintain them. Why? So they last longer and to reduce the frequency of break-downs, or in our terms down-time. So just like the Manufacturer's book that sits in the glove box of your car, telling you at what intervals you need to have your car service, and what parts need to be replace, so is a book sitting in the office of the Service Manager in the company that you use to service your equipment. The difference is though that the mechanic will come to you, and I do touch on this in more detail throughout this book. Remembering that certain parts need to be replaced at certain intervals it is important to know that your service company will plan to have the required parts readily available for when your print solution requires preventative maintenance, not afterwards, for this defeats the purpose. Please note, if you find a technician performs preventative maintenance for you, and you notice that no parts were replaced, make sure to ask them what they did. It is very unlikely for you to receive preventative maintenance without having to replace any parts, and you are not just paying for a clean or for a tricky technician to extend the life of the current parts in your printer.
Keeping preventative maintenance & emergency maintenance in mind we must concentrate on ensuring that the company we choose to do business with has access to the parts specific for your solution throughout the agreed term of business that you choose. In Australia, companies supplying print solutions, such as copiers & printers, only have to keep parts in stock for seven years so you will never see a lease, rental or maintenance agreement exceeding or guaranteeing supplies past seven years.
Some important notes to make about supplies is the availability of them locally. By locally we talk about in Australia, in your City, in your area. There is no use having an emergency call to your supplier if they can not repair your equipment until a month's time because they have to ship parts to the country from overseas. If you do business with a manufacturer or with respectable dealerships you will expect for them to have plenty of stock and parts available in local areas across the country or specifically in their local area of business. So ask yourself, does this company I am looking at investing money in, no matter how great or small, have enough stock on hand, consistently throughout the year, to ensure that my print solution will remain working without any major delays due to backorder or lack of stock? Ask them when you are investigating your purchase.
Another point to cover is the carriage of supplies in technicians' vehicles. This was mentioned only moments earlier with our scenario of a technician diagnosing a problem without having an on the spot solution for it. You will see more and more technicians driving around in station wagons with loads of supplies in their possession as the demand for higher productivity solutions come in to play and the requirements to minimise downtime become ever more so apparent. Now it would be completely impossible to expect a technician to carry every single part of every single model or make of product their company supplied in their vehicle, or to carry consumables for every model so please don't expect that every time a technician arrives at your door for them to have every exact part as required for your print solution's problem, due completely to the diverse range of problems that may arise from different scenarios, makes and models. But what you should expect is for a technician to at least have the bare minimum of basic parts in their vehicles to ensure that the standard, or regular, maintenance requirements can be met, without having to RTB (return to base).
This is becoming a very important part of the sales strategy to highlight the requirements of technicians to maintain supply levels in their vehicles, not only for customer service and reduction of down time but also to provide an overview of the commitment a company makes to their clients in maintaining satisfaction throughout their business relationship. It also helps reduce costs of the supplier by having a technician RTB for equipment they could, or should, have been carrying in their vehicle.
The topic of supplies relates mostly to commercial based equipment, rather than your $100 printers from the local office supplies store. Obviously they are not going to supply you with a maintenance agreement or any form of guarantee in terms of parts, besides a limited warranty or extended warranty, so make sure if you are looking at purchasing something small whether or not it is worth investing that little bit more initially to ensure the smooth running of your office and the support you require.
Supplies are a very important part of your print solution, they keep you going and help you get the absolute most out of your investment, no matter how large or small. Without the proper chain of supply no business can run effectively and the flow on effect that this could happen to the relationship of client to vendor can be diminished immediately. If you feel that your current vendor is not keeping their end of the bargain I recommend you shop around, this industry is highly competitive and the levels of customer service, supply chains & commitment to clients is increasing by the minute. Be sure to protect your office's interest by investing in a company that stocks their own parts, carries their own parts and has a proven track record of successfully supplying clients in your area, at the end of the day if you can reduce down time by half think about how much money your company saves in productivity.
By: Jon Hillis
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