While technologists keep touting the advent of the paperless office, researchers estimate that organizations still are spending between 1% and 3% of corporate revenue on printing business documents alone, according to Lexmark International Inc., a Lexington, Ky.-based manufacturer of printers.
That being the case, agents, carriers and other insurance operations need to pay attention to how their printing dollars are spent to ensure maximum value from what could be a sizeable investment. Smart decisions about printing equipment and supplies can save money and enhance productivity, experts say.
Office products researcher Lou Slawetsky, president of Industry Analysts, Rochester, N.Y., says printer buyers need to begin by taking a careful look at their page volume, because “theres an inverse relationship between the cost of a printing unit and the cost-per-page to operate it.” Thus, higher-cost printers are more likely to benefit companies with high-volume printing operations due to their relatively low per-page cost.
“Its a pay-me-now or pay-me-later situation,” says Slawetsky. A basic inkjet printer costs “next to nothing” to buy and may even be offered free with some new computer systems. The cost of printing with such a unit, however, may be 8 to 9 cents per page in black and up to 25 or 30 cents per page in colorwhich is relatively high, he says.
If your printing needs are relatively light, such a unit may make sense for a small office. Slawetsky warns, however, that inkjet cartridges will dry out if not used frequently, making the cost-per-page “astronomical,” since the cartridges are “really, really expensive.” Where offices dont print often, he recommends printing a color page at least once a week, “just to keep the inkjets clear.”
While basic inkjet units utilize two cartridgesone for black and one for colorslightly more expensive units use one cartridge for black and one for each primary color. “If youre doing a lot of color,” says Slawetsky, “as page volume increases, separate cartridges mean you will only replace one color that runs out, instead of the entire color spectrum, so cost-per-page drops.
“The problem with inkjet cartridges,” he notes, “is that when you replace the cartridge, you also replace the print head, which makes cartridges relatively expensive.” For a step-up in price, however, units can be purchased with user-replaceable print heads that may last for “30,000 to 40,000 pages, which for most people is the life of the printer.” If the print heads need replacement, the process is relatively easy, he adds. Meanwhile, users need only replace the ink, instead of an entire cartridge.