Print Technology: Discover What Your Business Really Needs

A thorough analysis of a print output environment puts businesses in-the-know about their document management process. That data helps businesses of all sizes gain a unique perspective of what their print requirements are.

It is imperative decision makers have a clear idea of what they require any multifunction printer to do before investing. Without the data, things can go catastrophically wrong.
The decision on the technology you need must be based on the present print environment and not future projections. Taking that approach is likely to lead to operating over capacity. That happens when you pay a premium for advanced features that never get used.
Armed with the appropriate printing technology, costs will be significantly reduced and IT support time minimised. That is what will happen when you have the right MFP to cater to your organisations specific needs.

Print Technology Explained

     1.  Understanding the laser printing process

Laser printing technology is the most cost efficient printing technology there is. It is complex; however, it is also the very best at reducing print costs and providing cutting edge speed output.

To get an understanding of the entire process, we’ll turn you over to a guy that calls himself Professor Messor. Don’t know why the name, but he’s got a superb walkthrough on laser printer technology.

     2.  Network printing

This is essential for efficient document management. The old method of serial port connections are not efficient because each unit will need connecting independently. Network printers are as the name implies. They are networked, and that can be done wirelessly or via an Ethernet cable.

     3.  Print servers

Speaking of network printing, this is only made possible with print servers. Over a decade ago, if a business wanted to share printers, the IT administrators would need to install and configure the print servers, and individually connect each printer to the server. The server is the hub that allows multiple printers to be connected through the one central server, so when a driver update rolls out, one update to the central server updates the print drivers for all the printers on the network.

They make IT administration a breeze, however with modern MFPs; the print servers are built into the units.

    4. Memory

With print servers discussed and the ability it has to compartmentalise the print environment, the next thing you need to know about is the memory capacity. With the amount of information going through these units, a high memory capacity is essential.

There are units, such as the 3051ci Taskalfa colour photocopier that packs a mighty 160 GB HDD memory storage and options to scan to a searchable PDF database. In essence, it allows you to build a digital filing system. Something that would not be possible with printers with low memory capacity.

     5.  Cloud printing

Users no longer need to be at their workstations to print documents. With cloud services available from Google Cloud Print and Apple’s AirPrint, any device can be used to send a print job to the MFP.

To take advantage of cloud printing, you need a cloud ready printer.

     6.  Trays and feeders

Since MFPs are designed to cater to volume print jobs, they need the input trays and auto feeders there to keep the documents flying into the output tray. Some models only have the one input tray capable of holding one ream (500 sheets A4), whereas others can have multiple, each containing one ream, and also different sizes for different types of print jobs, such as A3 and A4. When one stack empties, the machine will automatically switch to restock.

Depending on your print requirements, you may need to have a manual feed option. This would be the case if you were to be printing directly onto envelopes. If your device were set up for duplex printing by default, a mass auto print job would be a nightmare. In that situation, you would need to alter the print settings manually and ensure the envelopes were inserted the right way, which auto feeders can lack.

     7.  Output and cost reporting functionality

Networked printers streamline document management, but they also make it super easy for users to print at a fast pace and get more done. That needs to be managed to ensure people are not being careless. Priorities can be set, (just the same as you can with print servers), assign permissions to different users, different offices, and even different locations.

For volume printing to be managed effectively, you really can’t be without the cost reporting functionality.

     8.  Permission based printing

IT administrators have a painstaking task of managing print budgets. If the costs are hiking, they likely need to adjust the parameters in the server’s active directory, resetting priorities, and applying restrictions to users and departments.

Instead, budget parameters can be set so that when a department approaches the monetary limitations set, the system will alert them to consider black and white print, and if colour is necessary to seek management approval.

The right technology puts the controls at your fingertips to strategically manage your entire print environment.

     9.  Security protocols and card readers

Some information being printed may be confidential. In that case, card readers can be used so that any print jobs queued can only be printed when the user’s card is inserted into the printer.

The most important detail is the monthly duty cycle

This is critical to get right. Every MFP information sheet will let you know what the machine can comfortably handle in any given month. That is the monthly duty cycle. Not the life cycle, which is how long the machine can last you when it is used to the monthly duty cycle maximum.

The best thing you can do is assess your print environment, establish your print volume, and invest in a multifunctional printer that can handle more than you need it to. If you print 15’000 pages per month, use a unit that can handle 20’000 pages per month. That way you can be sure that the machine is built to do what you need it to without overworking it, which will likely cause operational/maintenance issues.