Ask These 6 Questions Before Buying A Copier

Businesses of all sizes, no matter the industry, can benefit from using a multifunction printer. However, choosing the right one for your business’s particular needs, operations, and processes can be confusing.  There are 11 major manufacturers of multifunction printers and a handful of smaller ones, and every manufacturer has between 10 to 30 different models in production at any given time. As you would imagine, the feature sets available on the MFPs not only differ by manufacturer, but it isn’t uncommon for available features to vary for the models available from each manufacturer. On top of that, not everyone within the industry uses the exact verbiage.  A simple example would be all the different names of a multifunction printer.  It may also be referred to as a copier, multifunctional device (MFD), office printer, business printer, or by a brand name like Xerox, Sharp, Canon, etc.

Regardless of which name you call it, we offer a wide range of copiers, office printers, and MFPs to choose from at Tech Wise Office Solutions. While we’ve helped many clients find the right MFP for their needs, we’ve seen how confusing it can be to navigate which device to get when there are so many options. In this article, we’ll break down what a multifunction printer is and the questions to consider asking yourself before choosing an MFP for your business. By the end of this article, you will know how to select the right MFP for your company’s needs.

What Is a Multifunction Device (MFD)?

This is not one of the questions you need to ask yourself, but it warrants a definition before we go any further. A multifunction printer is an all-in-one device with print, copy, and scan functionality out-of-the-box.  It may also have additional features like fax, sort or collate, staple, etc.  MFPs are ideal for offices with several staff members utilizing a single printer, print multi-page jobs often, or have a heavy print load in general.  They are also an excellent solution for offices that rely heavily on scanning and often offer many helpful scanning features. In addition, if your business is interested in going paperless, many of today’s MFPs can:

  • Print-to/Scan-from popular cloud applications like OneDrive, SharePoint, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
  • Use optical character recognition (OCR) when scanning to create text-searchable PDFs.
  • Search, store, and share documents.
  • Sort, staple, hole-punch document sets, or even create finished booklets.
  • Integrate with commercial and proprietary software to eliminate erroneous steps when scanning or printing.

That is nowhere near a complete list of the abilities and features of today’s MFPs, but hopefully, it helps show the benefits a business can receive with the right solution.  So, how do you know what type of MFP to purchase? This will depend upon your business’s unique needs. Knowing which questions to ask when looking for a suitable device for your business is essential. There are many models to consider and an assortment of options and accessories for each model.  Before choosing a new device, let’s dive into the questions to ask your business.

1. What’s My Business’s Print Volume?

Before deciding which brand or style of device your company is interested in acquiring, you must understand how much your business is printing.  The question of print volume is generally determined for a monthly period. Why is it important to know your print volume? Well, your company’s print volume is crucial in narrowing down the options because MFPs have technical specifications like Duty Cycle, which specifies the maximum number of prints it is rated to handle per month.  This information can save you from excessive downtime and unnecessary repairs later.  If you do not know how much your company is printing and are unsure how to compile that information, speak with a salesperson or consultant from an office equipment provider and ask them for a print assessment of your office.  They should be willing to conduct a print assessment for you at no cost.

Additionally, most service agreements on a copier or MFP are based on the monthly print volume.  The monthly print volume enables the service provider to estimate how much toner you will be using (toner is normally included in the service agreement), how often the machine will need service and the life expectancy of the major components inside the MFP.  To understand how the print volume correlates with a particular device, take a look at the numbers below:

  • Low-Volume Business MFP
    • These devices fit environments that print up to 10,000 pages monthly.
  • Mid-Volume Business MFP
    • These devices fit environments that print between 10,000 to 30,000 pages monthly.
  • High-Volume Business MFP
    • These devices fit environments that print between 30,000 to 75,000 pages monthly.
  • Light-Production MFP
    • These devices fit environments that print between 75,000 to 300,000 pages monthly, and have production-type needs.
  • Production MFP
    • These devices fit environments that print 300,000+ pages monthly, and have production-type needs.

2. How Fast Should My MFP Be?

When it comes to the speed of an MFP, the measurement commonly used is known as prints per minute (ppm). Your business must determine how many print jobs your office team will make on an ongoing basis.  Think of it this way – the faster the device, the less time to wait for a print job to be completed. However, if your business prints only a few pages a day, you may not care how fast your MFP can print.

However, suppose your organization has several employees printing or copying over a thousand pages daily. In that case, the printing delay can accumulate quickly and cause problems. Let’s look at the pages per minute for each type of MFP. Remember that the speeds outlined below do not consider variations such as double-sided printing, oversized documents, or finishing options.

  • Low‐Volume Business MFP
    • This device can print up to 30 ppm.
  • Mid‐Volume Business MFP
    • This device can print in a range of 30 to 60 ppm.
  • High‐Volume Business MFP
    • This device can print in a range of 60 to 90 ppm.
  • Light-Production MFP
    • This device can print in a range of 75 to 110 ppm.
  • Production MFP
    • This device can print at 90+ ppm.

It is also worth noting that actual print speed (ppm) isn’t the only metric that matters when looking at how fast print jobs are completed.  First Print Out speed is also essential.  This metric tells you how quickly the MFP can produce a single print once you hit the Print button.  Why is First Print Out speed critical? Let’s say you are looking for a new copier for your shipping department.  The shipping department has 6 team members that often print shipping labels, and pick tickets and bills of laden throughout the day.  Each document is only 1 or 2 pages, and each team member prints approximately 20 of these sporadically throughout the day.  In a situation like this, it matters how fast the MFP can process and output 1 or 2 pages and then begin the next job, not how fast it can print 100 consecutive pages.

3. Does My Organization Need a Color MFD?

Generally, the answer to this question is obvious.  However, there are occasions when some deeper digging is necessary to determine whether a business should invest in a model that can produce color or even production-level color.  

The answer is obviously yes if your company needs to produce on-demand marketing materials or collateral for tradeshows.  Again, if your sales force does in-person presentations and proposals on high-dollar ticket items, the answer should be an obvious yes.  Sometimes, however, it’s not so clear-cut.  For example, what if you currently have full-color brochures created by an outside pay-for-print provider?  In this scenario, you might have to determine whether it is more cost-effective to continue having a 3rd-party handle the printing for you or whether it would be better to bring the printing in-house.

Taking a proactive and honest approach to evaluating what your organization prints and how it can improve will help you choose the best device for your needs.

4. Where Will the MFP Be Located, And How Much Space Is Needed?

We recommend that whatever size you’re looking for, make sure you have the space for it. It might seem simple, but you’d be surprised how often this gets overlooked.  Determine where you want the MFP to be located, and ensure that the unit will fit in the designated location. The MFP will need a designated space that is large, tidy, and clean for it to function correctly. It’s best to have between 20” to 24” inches of clearance space on each side of the device to open paper trays, remove paper jams, and avoid overheating. To remove long cartridges and toners, having an average clearance of at least 30” is recommended. Other than that, the size of the MFP doesn’t affect how it functions. The size is there to accommodate all the features integrated within the device. So, ensuring that you have the space required to fit your device is imperative.

5. How Much Is My Business Looking to Spend?

Before making any investment, it’s crucial to consider your budget.  Choosing a multifunction printer makes sense for most businesses because it meets several needs, including printing, copying, scanning, and faxing.  However, other companies may not be ready to commit to the price of an MFP. Multifunction devices range from $2,000 to $35,000 on average.  In 2021, the average MFP sold by Tech Wise was approximately $8,000.  Every brand varies with its pricing.  Nevertheless, now that you’re aware of the price range, your business can decide if this range is doable.

6. Should I Try the Device Before I Lease Or Buy?

Without a doubt, the answer is yes. MFPs are a significant investment. If these devices are well-maintained and cared for, you can use an MFP for many years. But before you select a device, we suggest you ask for an in-person demonstration of the device you wish to lease or purchase. Through an in-person demonstration, your team can practice using the device, complete a print job, and learn the device’s different features with an expert’s help. Whether you work with an independent copier dealer or manufacturer, make sure they can walk you through the operations you will likely use regularly. From there, your business can easily understand and use the features of the MFP that will meet your particular needs.

Ready To Invest in A New Multifunction Device?

Suppose your business is already looking for a new multifunction printer. In that case, it always helps to be prepared before you enter the showroom and start considering specific devices. As an independent copier dealer, Tech Wise Office Solutions works closely with clients to ensure that the device they choose for their business serves their needs for years to come.

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