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You Can Reduce Your Print- Outs, But You Still Have To Print

By Antonio Sanchez Navarro, Founder & President, Nubeprint

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Antonio Sanchez Navarro, Founder & President, Nubeprint

Printing is present in most office activities, and is indeed one of the most expensive. It is mostly perceived to be the responsibility of IT. As such, a large percentage of the CIO Review readers have invested in a user accounting solution that restricts the right to print by establishing quotas, profiles and giving a centralized visibility of who prints what. As a result, the number of hardcopy was probably reduced by 20 percent-30 percent.

“The usage of BPM tools to automate manual processes leads to streamlined fulfillment of supplies that delivers amazing savings and an astonished customer experience”

But this is the lesser evil: you can reduce the amount of documents you print, and still the remaining documents must be printed. The real hassle is the coordination and control of the different activities that are necessary to keep the printers up and running: the printer’s supplies fulfillment. The fulfillment is composed of the following steps:

• the printer user identifies that the toner is soon to end and requests a new cartridge;
• the purchase department orders the cartridge;
• the supplier ships it;
• the carrier delivers the cartridge; and
• the user of the printer receives it and installs it at the appropriate moment of time.

Such a variety of participants in the process distracts the company resources from its core business. Signing a cost per page contract does not prevent the employees from any distraction: they still need to be attentive to the toner low messages and ensure that there are cartridges in stock.

But controlling costs is more than that. The resources used to print must be optimized for the sake of your pocket and of global environment. The cost of the supplies is inflated by the inefficiencies around their fulfillment. Let’s see some numbers:

• 8-12 percent of the cartridges you buy never reach the printer. They are either abandoned in someone’s cupboard or closet, or simply lost (have you ever wondered why eBay is the cheapest place to buybrand new original cartridges?).
• In average, 12-16 percent of black toner is wasted when the cartridge is replaced.
• In average, 16-18 percent of drum is wasted when the cartridge is replaced.
• 15 percent of color cartridges are replaced as a “pack”: once one of the 3 cartridges is empty, all 3 are replaced no matter how much toner was remaining in the other 2.
• If you have a monitoring tool in place, 1 out of 3 of the cartridges shipped to the customer are not needed.
• If supplies are ordered by the printer user, 1 out of 7 cartridges ordered are not needed, and 1 out of 10 requests a wrong SKU which results in repeating the process.

The sum is the number of cartridges in excess that are shipped compared to the actual needs. We leave it to you to calculate. Bear in mind that another cost for your organization is the time used by your employees to order a supply, find it or report technical issues of their printers. I bet you now agree that the cost of printing is far from being under control, despite of the fact that you have invested in a user accounting tool, or even signed a cost per page contract. The usage of BPM tools to automate manual processes leads to streamlined fulfillment of supplies that delivers amazing savings and an astonished customer experience.

The automation of the supplies fulfillment activities using BPM is complex. Even though your organization has a wide variety of printer models that fit the needs of your users, this is not what causes the difficulty. The key is to differentiate between monitoring tool and a management tool. Only this second one has been designed to control processes and use yield management algorithms to reduce all wastes and deviations automatically and in real time.

Implementing ATF (Automatic Toner Fulfillment) results in the following:

• The order is automatically triggered from remote. The need for such or such cartridge is automatically identified and certified.
• The order is then received by the supplier and automatically processed. The order is identified for a specific printer. Each cartridge is assigned to solve a specific need. The shipment clearly identifies which printer each cartridge is for.
• The printer user receives the new cartridge on time. The user gets information that guides him to install in the right printer at the right moment.
• A smart tracking system does an end to end follow-up of each cartridge and verifies that it is shipped on-time and it is properly installed. It also tracks its usage and that it delivers the number of pages certified by the manufacturer.

ATF is a reality and many IT distributors are working on implementing it. It’s also compatible with your purchasing policy: you may be purchasing cartridges or pages, and still ATF advantages remain all there for you. ATF measures the quality of the cartridges you buy, and for the first time you have arguments to decide what type of cartridges you want to use based on their actual performance, and not based on the yield shown on the box.

ATF is part of any green strategy. Reducing the number of cartridges used while printing the same amount of pages is a synonym of reducing the waste, which is currently between 30 to 50 percent of the cartridges you buy. 

So you may now want to take a look at your printer and copier supply fulfillment activities and ask your providers for a solution. Or maybe you want to implement yourself, in-house, yield management software. Believe me, the savings you’ll get will pay for it in just 3 weeks, and the benefits will be present long term.

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