The cost of running legacy laser printers
Even if your printers are bought & paid for, they could still be costing you money.
When your old laser printers are still up and running, it's hard to justify the capital expense of buying new ones. After all, the old hardware works, you know how to manage and maintain it, and new laser printers don't exactly come cheap. Yet the reality may be different. The upfront costs of purchasing new printers can be a fraction of the cost of keeping your old ones, once you factor in the total cost of housing, running and maintaining them. By spending money on new laser printers in the short term, you could be saving your organisation money in the long term.
Cost per page
As with any technology, laser printer technology doesn't stand still. The technology in the print engines, mechanisms and toner cartridges is continually developing, while even the design and formulation of the toner itself is being refined with every year. These enhancements affect performance and print quality, but they also have a positive impact on printing costs. New toners, smarter cartridges and more efficient print engines are all helping to drive costs down. Manufacturers are also producing higher-capacity cartridges, while finding new ways to reduce toner wastage within the cartridge. As a result, you could be getting black-and-white prints for under 1p per A4 page, or A4 colour prints for under 8p per page.
Older laser printers are almost certainly costing you more: as much as 3p to 4p per black-and-white A4 page or 16p per colour page. That might not sound like a huge difference, but on a workgroup printer that might be printing 4,000 or more pages per month, even a difference of 1p per page could add up to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Replace an old laser printer with a new model, and you might actually save its purchase price within a year.
What's more, new laser printers are likely to have more advanced features that enable you to get high-quality results with less toner. For example, high-quality eco or draft modes can give you perfectly acceptable documents for internal use while using less toner per page.
Cost per page isn't the only expense, however. Historically, laser printers have been one of the most power-hungry pieces of equipment in the office. Even the leading colour laser printers of, say, eight years ago may have used in excess of 600W while operational and approximately one-tenth of in standby. In the last few years, manufacturers have made real strides in reducing operational power consumption while adding standby modes and sleep modes that can seriously reduce your energy bill. Recent HP LaserJet printers, for example, consume under 34W while ready to print, but have a sleep mode where they use as little as 3.9W. Beyond that, they have an auto-off/wake from LAN mode where they consume just 1W. This doesn't affect their ability to work, either. Thanks to improvements in engine toner technology, they can still print the first page of a job within nine seconds of waking from sleep.
Don't forget, either, that where more power is being used, more heat is also being produced. That means your old printers are busy heating up the office, making your air-conditioning systems work harder to keep everything cool. Again, small costs add up into significant figures.
In business, time always has a value. Time spent waiting for a job to print out is time that could be better spent doing something else, and we've all experienced situations where you need a printout right now before you can go out, but a colleague is printing the report equivalent of War and Peace. Here, unfortunately, your old printers may be holding you back. Even the best printers of seven or eight years ago were stuck at 30ppm in black-and-white and 25ppm in colour, and many workgroup printers worked at much lower speeds.
These days, the majority of workgroup printers can work at speeds of up to 30ppm in black-and-white or colour, while higher-end models are reaching speeds of 40ppm or even 50ppm. Throw in shorter times for the first page to print, and the job that used to take five minutes might now be done in two. That's less time wasted waiting, and more being used productively.
Laser printers are incredibly robust, but that doesn't mean they last forever. With age, parts wear and mechanisms start to jam, and while it's possible to replace most key components there always comes a point at which you need to ask whether it's still the right choice. What's more, the time IT staff spend fixing and maintaining an old printer not to mention the time other employees spend waiting for it to be fixed is time that could be spent more fruitfully elsewhere. Buying in new printers could mean less time wasted all-round and reduce the burden on support.
The Cost of Missing Out
In the last few years, laser printers have evolved to match the needs of a changing IT landscape. Cloud printing and wireless printing technologies are helping workers print from more devices and from anywhere they need to. Duplex printing has become a standard feature, helping companies cut the cost of paper. Management features like secure pull printing where jobs are only printed once a pin code is entered at the printer are protecting company information and ensuring that unnecessary printouts aren't abandoned in the out tray. IT managers have more control over who prints, what they print and how they print it, helping them control, say, the use of colour and drive expenses down. Most importantly, faster printers with higher monthly workloads can help organisations consolidate their printer fleet, reducing the space used by printers in the office and the impact they have on the office environment. By working hard to keep your old printers hobbling along, you're missing out on the cost savings that new printers could bring.
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