SUPPLY CHAIN | 5 MIN READ
The global economic shutdown that occurred in the spring of 2020, and the proceeding ripple effect to supply chains, has created a unique challenge facing business across industries. Whether organizations sell or use these products, supply woes have caused businesses to seek unique solutions to keep things moving forward.
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Global Supply Chain Issues
We recently wrote an article that specifically discussed supply chain issues within the copier and printer industry and some solutions to temporarily solve the problem these issues have created.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, supply issues have been affecting all corners of the globe, and US businesses haven't been immune from the repercussions.
Everything from paper to microchip shortages are included when it comes to product imports. In the US, much of the issue stems from supplies being stuck on cargo ships, still in their shipping containers.
This backlog has resulted in businesses seeking creative solutions, and the copier and printer industry has been no exception.
What Are Copier Manufacturers Doing?
Copier companies have faced a number of issues when it comes to successfully keeping shelves stocked at office supply stores or within local dealers. Paper, toner, and machine shortages have led to headaches for organizations relying on these products to operate their day-to-day.
One particular issue has been the absence of microchips that are used for a number of processes. These particular microchips are used within multifunction-printers (aka copiers) within their hard drives and interfaces, but are also used within toner supplies.
Popular manufacturers, like Konica Minolta, have had noticeable trouble getting supplies to their customers. In fact, Konica Minolta's supply woes of 2021 appear to be continuing into 2022.
Major copier and printer manufacturer Canon has implemented a temporary solution around the microchip problem with its toner cartridges -- remove the microchip:
“To ensure our customers don’t miss a print, Canon … has started to manufacture chip-less toner cartridges. While there will be some inevitable, yet minor, changes to our customers’ experience, you will still be able to print as normal.”
But how does a decision like this affect Canon's users? The answer... it depends.
Canon uses these microchips in their toner cartridges to allow Auto Toner Replenishment (ATR) software to keep track of toner levels. By also knowing the total number of toner supplies at a location, ATR is able to automatically order new toner before the customer runs out.
This saves technology managers a great deal of headache when they have multiple machines, because it liberates them from the tedious task of ordering new toner; or worse, running out and having to find temporary (and costly) solutions while they wait for supplies.
Will I Still Be Able to Print?
Yes! Removing the microchip in the toner cartridge does not remove your ability to print. Canon's temporary solution exclusively serves the purpose of trying to meet demand, so it can avoid problems that have plagued other manufacturers (and as a result, their customers).
Are There Other Solutions?
This issue appears to be relatively temporary, but some experts predict problems can persist for some manufacturers well into 2022 (and possibly 2023).
If you are considering the purchase/lease of a new machine in the next 24 months, you need to make sure you are considering all factors in this unique market. The questions you should be asking include:
Is my machine available?
If you need a machine that prints 35 pages per minute (ppm), but the manufacturer only has higher or lower volume printers available, don't immediately settle.
A higher volume printer will be more expensive on the frontend, and lower volume printers will likely be more expensive on the backend (do to the machine's often lower efficiency).
If you need to find a solution, other options may be available through other copier and printer brands. In fact, working with a local copier dealer can create advantages for you because they are not confined to carry a single brand; giving you options.
Are Supplies Available?
It won't do you much good to have a new copier if you can't use it. The best service in the world can't overcome a supply issue... or can it?
Some companies, like Standard Office Systems in Atlanta, Georgia, have the luxury of an onsite warehouse and keep their supplies stocked as they become available. This is an advantage for their customers, because it increases the chance that they will have the supplies and machines necessary to keep your organization's print demands satisfied.
What About Service?
Like supplies, the quality of the service you're offered will have a dramatic impact on your overall satisfaction and machine performance.
Another way to look at it is, if you find a dealer with the machine you want and the supplies you need, but they have a track record of poor service, then the quality of your equipment won't matter.
Most multifunction-printers have similar performance abilities, but if your machine is 99% reliable, and it takes you days to get it running again, that reliability means nothing.
Delays in getting your devices up and running can occur thanks to a variety of reasons:
- Overwhelmed or inefficient call center
- Anemic service staff that may be struggling with demand
- An inefficient system of getting parts to service technicians when they need parts that are not immediately available on-site
- Quarterly service budget constraints (a mostly manufacturer issue)
RELATED: Top Copier Dealers in the US
Make sure to look for online reviews (not posted by the dealer), the variety of products offered (to ensure availability and options), years in business, and even what their employees think about the company they work(ed) for.
Regardless of which dealer you choose, SOS is happy to offer advice and can even connect you with a local dealer within the Untied States through the Copier Dealer Network. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!
Posted by Bryan Ammons
Bryan Ammons is the President and Owner of Standard Office Systems of Atlanta where he began his career as a part-time employee in 1973. SOS is a leading provider of office technology including managed IT services, copiers, printers, and business phone systems. Bryan has served on the board of the Copier Dealers Association for 11 years, including two as President. Additional, he served on the Dealer Advisory Councils of HP, Ricoh, Sharp, US Bank, and Great America Leasing.