Can we expect service, quality and reliabilty to be good at any cost?
Have you ever thought about the fact that every
sales company/reseller is always screaming that then have the best product, the
best service, the best support, the best after sales and the best warranty? Not
even mentioning also they might include that they also have the best
price. I love sales people but, I’m in
I sometimes look at these marketing actions and feel really bad
about them. I believe they are misleading the market and sometimes they are just
propagating pure lies.
It’s like buying the best sandwich at the
cheapest joint in town.
What is the service
like, well they will throw the sandwich on the counter and they are not serving
it on a nice plate for you to eat. OK, that's the minimalistic service model,
how about the warranty?
Do I get my money back if the sandwich is not ok or if
I get sick will they pay for my doctor’s bill or my sick pay? Unfortunately,
no they will not.
So, the result is
that you will never eat there again but all the pain is yours. There is just no
relief for this.
The same goes for the printing-hardware manufacturing
world. There are many people that are buying
inkjet printing equipment just because they believe these cries that are send into
the market are true. The explicitly missing terms like reliability, advanced
technology, patents or even just a clear “what do you get for your money “, are
just not there.
If the manufacturer is from a faraway country with no local
offices, nor service staff to support you, what do you expect.
are for free and wishes you pay for.
Take for example the advertised printing speeds
in draft mode or how I call them garbage print modes. These speeds are
basically useless for anybody buying a printer. It tells you how fast a printer
can print garbage. You only should talk about real production speeds. Speeds
that give you sell able quality for your customers. You also need to think about
more fundamental things like, what is my total cost price per sqm (maintenance,
ink, substrate, write-off, head degradation, service contracts, operator cost
and financial burdens). ROI calculations
will set you back for a few hours but its worth it.
I hear people buy inkjet printing equipment
just because of the ink price per liter, without investigating the facts of
consumption, head cost and maintenance waste all of these things need to go
into the equation.
You really need to do your homework, you need
to check how much ink is purged by the machine each day for cleaning and maintenance,
how much ink Is needed on the substrate to get a good quality image, including
The energy needed, space
needed, operator cost and much more.
For example, did you know that the price of one
square meter of finished print on a printer with UV inks and a solvent printer
are about the same, when it comes to ink pricing? This is just something many
PSP’s just don't know.
Yes, UV ink is more expensive than a good eco solvent
ink but, you also use only half the ink to get the same result. Did you know that its not the speed of the
printer holding you back for fast production, but the drying of the ink? If you
print faster than drying capability of the inks, then you will have a mess on
the roll after printing whole day or overnight.
This is one of the reasons why UV technology in
the large Roll-to-Roll markets is still growing, the ink is immediately dry
after printing and production speeds are fairly high these days.
When we talk features, one of them should be, “Can
I print reliably overnight?”.
If your printer can run all night without
failures you're the king, but if it can only run supervised, your losing money.
As a consultant I don't design products, I evaluate
them. I look at the total feature set of these products. I look at the options
like overnight printing, ink cost maintenance ratios and much more. Just the total ROI for your company and yes,
its different for each printing company in Europe and the UK. The cost of an
operator doing nothing for many hours is too high for anybody not to care. If the
printer is making money while you are sleeping due to all the advanced
technology in the printer you will be happy.
You need to be in the loop of
things, like error reporting, auto cleaning, nozzle-out detection and other features.
It will give you the understanding that there is a reliable piece of hardware
in your shop doing its job.
Reading about this exact subject, I found
something that explains it really well in my opinion. It was a sign in an
automobile repair station that made me laugh but also made me think about it,
as this is very true statement in every way.
We offer 3 kinds of Service
But you can only pick two !
Good & Cheap won’t be
Fast & Good won’t be
Cheap and Fast won’t be
This is a great illustration of the real world
of service, so don't expect the best service if you pay nothing. The service
and after service should be what has been promised by your vendor and its costs
money. It doesn’t have to be the best, but you need to know what are you
getting for the price. If not, you would
buy a printer where you don’t know what will break down and if it will be fixed
Reputable hardware technology companies are
always moving ahead, including innovation and technologies from there
industrial machines, in their entry level machines. They are spending huge
amounts off R&D dollars to make your product better. Like preemptive maintenance, this is something
new that is now starting to appear.
Just imagine that a service engineer
arrives at your print shop and asks you if he can replace a specific part that
will break down in the next 8 hours of production. The vendor knows this
because they have all the printers connected via the net to a central hub and
they can see what is happening to all the printers worldwide. So, if multiple printers
are all showing this failure, your printer will probably also get the failure.
Replacing it before it happens gives you better uptime and uptime is the new magical
word in the print industry.
In our industry we have been struggling with
these facts for some time now. Some of the leading manufactures are now finally
only publicizing the production speeds. This is a great step away of the
exaggeration of facts that they were doing for so many years. These are speeds that
are really possible with the right quality and reliability that can be sold to
your customers. It will take some time
to understand and accept that the speeds advertised are going to lower than
what you thought, but at least when you buy the hardware it works as
Speeds that are production speeds can finally help you calculate
your margin before buying the hardware. When talking to your vendor ask about
There are also a few manufacturers demanding that
you need to use their original inks. This is not because they want to make a bigger
profit, but they want to guarantee your production and save you money in the
long term. Yes, original ink more expensive on the first impression but you
have full warranty and service to back this up.
Off course you need to look at
the base ink price but also look re. the
total picture. See it as an extra insurance policy for your print production.
If they don't offer service then it’s up to you
to find a better alternative. Just don't take the first option to start with
the alternative ink before you really try and calculate the difference. I
believe we all would like to have printers that just work.
Remember the cost of
ink is not the biggest expense, substrates, time, staff and customers
dissatisfaction are costlier then more expensive inks. Do remember that 3rd party inks
are there and they are not all bad, most of the 3rd party inks are
as good or sometimes even better than the inks from the OEM. The reason for
this is that they need to be better else why switch.
Companies in the specialty
ink business have developed inks that give you different performance or special
colors. So, don't just drop 3rd party in the basket that they are
cheap and not good. Many of the top ink
manufacturers sell their inks to the hardware vendors, as making specialty inks
is not easy. The good old days of cheap and bad quality Chinese inks is long gone.
Importing them is the bigger hassle and
not worth it at the moment for most of us.
So next time you want to buy a production printer
think more about the total picture not only the cost, speed and ink price. If your careful, your next printer might just
be the winner you have been looking for.
If you are still hesitant, call in a consultant
to be your helping guide in this forest of opportunities, make your ROI and
support you in your buying decision. I can help you find the right tree in that
big ugly forest.
Enjoy print and the margin.