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3 Reasons Offices Should Have A Printer And Copier Servicing Partner

3 Reasons Offices Should Have A Printer And Copier Servicing Partner

Printing and copying are important enough for businesses to transcend even the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic response despite growing technology and hybrid workplaces. Well over half of all workers (59%) continued to print and copy the same amount or more while working from home. But catering to the continued need for print, already a challenge for the standard office becomes increasingly difficult for the large number of businesses moving to remote-first and hybrid formats. Here are three reasons offices should work with a reputable print and copier servicing partner.

How was print volume affected by covid

Equipment Efficiency Matters

IT and Administrative departments handling these continued print and copy difficulties have a great deal more on their hands than some may expect. They must understand each department’s copy and printing needs and work to deliver the equipment, security, and materials required. This responsibility includes managing proper equipment service schedules and ongoing maintenance.

But IT and administration are not printing experts. So while IT has a handle on security and admin has organization under control, neither department has expertise in the proper printer and copier maintenance. And it’s essential. An appropriate maintenance schedule can prevent most of the issues that lead to paper jams and mechanical failures that delay print jobs or put equipment out of commission. It also ensures consistent, high-quality printing and productivity.

Software updates and consumables like ink and toner might be in the IT and administrative wheelhouse. But what about the cleaning and lubrication of the small internal parts? Do they know how to check the rollers for wear and tear? Office printers and copiers also need regular configuration checks to calibrate them properly for maximum print performance.

As experts in the printing and copying industry, printer service businesses know the differences between the different makes and models of equipment. This knowledge includes their peculiarities as well as their required maintenance schedules. Their expertise helps them keep their clients’ printing and copying equipment in top working condition throughout its lifespan.

Increase Equipment Life

Dust is a known enemy for computers and other electrical devices. It is the same for printers and copiers. But, in addition to standard air particulates, loose toner is a similar problem for these sensitive instruments. Both dust and toner can build up in printing and copying components. The materials can short out circuits on electrical boards or get in gears and bearings, creating misalignments.

Inkjet printers do not have to deal with the added issue of loose toner. However, they have problems with ink build-up as pigment from the ink can cake onto the print heads. The compressed ink creates streaks or gaps on prints and copies, damaging production quality.

Due to the accumulation of dust, ink, and toner, both types of printers are subject to paper jams, breakdowns, electrical and mechanical problems. Continued issues can lead to more extensive machine breakdowns and decrease the longevity of the equipment. However, regular cleaning and maintenance services will remove unwanted debris deposits, reducing wear-and-tear on sensitive machinery.

Industry specialists, such as printer and copier servicing businesses, will know the dangerous areas for standard dust and other particulates to build up. They will also be able to advise appropriate countermeasures such as reliable toner and ink cartridges. The result will serve to increase the lifespan of the machines.

Upfront Costs

If something goes wrong with a printer or copier, the parts and service fees can add up fast. If the printer is owned outright, there may be a warranty to cover some of the costs. But printer and copier warranties often have loopholes that place costs right back on the equipment owner. In addition, expenditures for maintenance and repair vary widely by machine and servicing company, making the overall fees unpredictable. All of this is on top of the loss of productivity and delays caused when a printer or copier suddenly stops working.

It is precisely this type of time loss and budget variance which makes finance departments cringe at the idea of investing in standard or expanded print and copy services. Of course, these problems were already prevalent in the standard office setting. Adding additional machines in remote locations only exacerbates the issue. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

Contracting with a printer and copier servicing partner reduces costs by first helping to prevent more significant repairs and emergency service calls. They do this by keeping machines properly maintenance, calibrated, and running smoothly. But the real benefit for finance is the set and negotiated pricing they can count on for regular budgeting and bookkeeping without the inconvenience of unexpected expenses.

Maintenance And Service Matter

Even the COVID-19 pandemic response couldn’t stop employees’ needs for print and copy. It is safe to assume that these services will continue to be necessary as businesses continue to decentralize their office spaces. But more a more extensive printer network does not have to mean more headaches for IT and administrative departments – especially for general printer maintenance and services. Partnering with a reputable service and maintenance company can offer better cost controls as well as greater performance and longevity for the business’s investments.

If you’re looking for other ways to save money and increase operational efficiency, read: 3 Reasons Businesses Should Lease Their Printers.

Challenges IT Departments Face With Printers Post-Pandemic

Google, Twitter, and Citigroup are merely a handful of well-known names that have officially made the call to bring employees back to the office beginning in March 2022. According to research from Microsoft, around fifty percent of leaders noted their companies plan to require a full-time return to work within the next year. These decisions are being made despite less than a quarter (17%) of non-executive employees preferring to work from the office every day.

A Hybrid Workforce?

how many people work from home

Around thirty percent of employees working remotely have admitted they will be extremely likely to search for a different job if their current company eliminates remote work. This is precisely why most businesses sounding the bell for a total return are also “attempting to be flexible with schedules.” And, seeing the overwhelming preference for splitting time between working at home and the office, many companies are choosing to offer hybrid work options.

A recent McKinsey study predicts that over twenty percent of the global workforce will work remotely three to five days per week moving forward. And a report from Gartner anticipates close to one-half of employees will work from home.

The decision to allow adaptive scheduling along with a mix of at-home and in-office work may enable businesses to keep more of their employees. But it can create pains for other parts of the company. IT is one of the departments most directly affected by the hybrid office. While human resources and management seek to juggle the communication and culture aspects of a newly created and dynamic business setting, IT is faced with the logistics of acquiring and managing the software, equipment, and services required to create a seamless work experience.

And printers continue to be a significant part of that workplace environment. Fifty percent of firms agree that, despite continued hype about paperless offices, printing will remain an essential aspect of their business. Over three-quarters of global organizations agree print is either fairly or very important to business operations.

Catering Print to a Changing Office

One of the most significant issues for IT departments in the post-pandemic office is properly equipping employees. This becomes particularly difficult when it comes to printer access as many of the traditional printers are not completely capable of supporting a highly mobile and dynamic workforce. Rather than general use copiers or assigned desktop printers, businesses must now consider options and features that cater to an office environment where desks are multi-use and employees are in-office for only a portion of the week.

There are many features now available in the printer market that can cater to the hybrid and remote workforce. Remote printing, for instance, can allow employees to provide printed documents for in-office coworkers or have items printed and ready for when they come into the main office themselves. For added security, it is a good idea to couple remote print with hold/release functionality which allows the printer to retain print jobs in the queue until they are physically at the printer to claim the document.

Employees who only work in-office a couple of days a week are also likely to use the printer more heavily during their time at headquarters. In addition, offices with older or slower equipment may find it challenging to keep up with the speed and volume generated by the intermittent but substantial uptick in print jobs. A larger capacity printer can eliminate this challenge, saving employees time and allowing work to continue at an efficient pace.

But replacing office printers with newer, upgraded models means dedicating IT time to researching options. It also means a potentially hefty ding to the equipment budget. While this tech-savvy group may know how to configure servers and handle any number of computer problems, they are usually not printing experts. Even with a great deal of research, they may have issues determining the exact print needs to accommodate the entire organization. And the wrong printing equipment can cost the business additional money in both capital expenses and employee time and energy.

How Print Services Can Help

Consulting with a print industry expert such as a managed print services, printer leasing, or printer maintenance provider can help address the issue of equipment costs. These printing businesses have a wealth of knowledge from working with various offices. And, as every company’s “return to work” has been different, they have usually seen a multitude of configurations already. They can use their experiences to help each of their business partners create comprehensive recommendations that fit employee needs and the available budget. In addition to consultation and equipment sales, many printer companies even offer a wide range of services that can help reduce the impact up-front costs could incur on the IT equipment bottom line.

The IT department might have a long list of equipment, services, and logistics to make the post-pandemic office work smoothly. But that doesn’t mean everything on the list has to take up a significant amount of time or budget. Instead, there are options, partners, and services available that can make printers the least troublesome of IT’s return-to-office concerns.

3 Reasons the Office Supply Boom Benefits MPS

Business experts received an unusual surprise as the numbers for late 2021 rolled in earlier this year. Despite the shutdowns, pandemic concerns, shipping issues, microchip shortages, and other local and global problems, companies are making a concerted effort to return to the office. However, the “office” of 2021 and beyond is shaping up much differently from what was common in 2019.

Today, companies are turning to a wide range of configurations, including segmented scheduling, hybrid workforces, and completely remote work. And these new designs call for an entirely new way of stocking the most basic business needs, office supplies. The result is a significant increase in stationary sales, pens, post-its, and other standard requirements for everyday office life. Here are three ways this new office supply boom benefits managed print services and printer leasing providers.

Price Is Not All That Matters

Pandemic response taught a lot of people about convenience. And a significant part of that accessibility is leaving behind the in-person retail portion of their purchase. So, as retail office supply sales saw a very slight jump, eCommerce sales have grown seventy-seven percent over similar sales in 2019, according to NPD Group.

In years past, the primary driver for online purchases of office supplies has been price. However, recent shipping, manufacturing, and other disruptions in the global supply chain have made it harder for retail businesses to keep items in stock. As a result, even eCommerce businesses are often out-of-stock or have extended lead times. This is especially true for more specialized office supplies such as stationery, printer paper, ink cartridges, and toner.

Many companies are discovering that printing supplies are in especially high demand while toner and ink cartridges are still in backlogs at US ports. The solution for many businesses has been to find alternative sourcing options or even other options to replace their usual supplies. Today’s companies aren’t turning to eCommerce seeking a reasonable price point. Instead, they are looking for availability and an ability to deliver.

Printer services businesses such as managed print service providers and printer leasing companies have an unprecedented opportunity. As printer and printing supply experts, they have the knowledge required to efficiently and adequately source printing and office supplies. In addition, when supplies are limited, print service providers know exactly which brands and configurations offer reliable alternatives that will work appropriately with the printers and equipment running in each office.

Convenience Means Efficiency

Another big reason offices are turning to eCommerce for their supplies is the ease of use. Big online retailers like Amazon have made it simple to reorder or return. But online retail innovations go far beyond easy reorders. The past two years have also seen a significant boost in subscription services for everything from toothpaste to cat litter. Applying this option to office supplies was only a matter of time.

Printer services businesses have a unique opportunity now to take advantage of the tools eCommerce offers and convert businesses as they adjust to their new office formats. For example, converting sales orders to an online cart system provides the at-a-click purchasing for which most businesses are searching. And, once a single office and printer supply sale has been established, it is even easier to expand a long-term relationship through subscriptions. In addition, printer service companies can position themselves better if they convert all of their products and services to an online format, including help desk access and service requests.

Catering To More Locations

The most significant contributor to the sudden lift in office supply sales is the proliferation of multiple office locations through hybrid and remote work growth. Each site requires the basics for employees to continue operating at peak efficiency. Usually, this means at least some notebooks, pens, and pencils. But many remote offices also require printing access or onsite printers along with the paper, ink, or toner to operate the machines efficiently.

In addition to the added locations, different offices and workstations run through their supplies at different speeds. As a result, monitoring supply levels and arranging for timely ordering can be a struggle for office managers and administrators. In addition to keeping offices steadily supplied, availability and convenient shipping are yet more problems with which companies must contend.

Unlike the standard business, managed print services and printer leasing providers are built on the ability to provide for multiple office locations. When it comes to monitoring supply usage and configuring schedules for paper, toner, and ink, printer services companies have the technology and planning down to a tee. Now is the perfect time for printer businesses to reach out and offer to apply this knowledge and expertise to current and potential partners who may be facing the dilemmas posed by new, expanded office setups.

Whether it is offering a reliable resource, providing added efficiency, or the ability to help juggle the needs of multiple locations, print services businesses have been given a unique opportunity. As companies work to reopen in this newly transformed market, office managers and administrators need the knowledge printing experts can provide. Because the office supply boom is more than just a return to the office. It is an indicator of how hard many businesses are working to resupply and reconfigure their businesses for future success – a success made easier with a reliable printer services partner.





Hybrid Offices Change Printer Service And Office Supply Industries

As 2022 progresses, businesses have begun to settle in and either bring employees back into the office or capitalize on the proven productivity boosts seen with hybrid and at-home work. Whether selecting a hybrid format or bringing employees fully back on-site, there is an increased need for office supplies and printing to support these efforts. But, just like everything post-COVID, the bounce-back has been heavily influenced by the habits and trends formed during lockdowns.

Ecommerce Takes Over

office supply retailers increased revenue

Bigger companies have traditionally held accounts with office supply businesses, including the big-box supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples. With the rise of Amazon and other eCommerce businesses, these in-person retailers have seen year-over-year revenue declines since as early as 2005. The mass office closures and cutbacks caused by the pandemic response continued to drop industry revenues by as much as six percent in 2020.

Now, however, companies are ramping up productivity with eyes firmly back on revenue growth. And with that refocus, there is also a need to replace, update, or expand office equipment and supply availability. This should mean big money for office supply retailers. But rather than returning to prior vendors and purchasing habits, many offices are implementing their newly acquired preference of buying strictly online. So, while supply stores saw a smaller decline in 2021 (0.9%), slowing in-store purchases remains a problem.

Online office supply retailers, however, are seeing a significant boost. According to NPD, eCommerce office supply sales grew eighteen percent year-over-year in 2021. And 2021, sales were seventy-seven percent higher than in 2019. NPD’s executive director and office supplies industry analyst have noted e-commerce’s share of core office supplies, and stationery categories have stayed around twenty-seven to twenty-eight percent. That number is up around eleven points since pre-pandemic.

Growth for Office Electronics

Supplies such as paper, ink, toner, and writing implements are not the only things to see increased sales and interest. As office work returns or transforms, there is also a new demand for the equipment needed to keep work running smoothly. As a result, the sale of office electronics such as computers, tablets, and even printers grew ninety-five percent in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic sales.

Some of this growth in electronics sales can be attributed to personal purchases for home offices and schooling. But companies who choose to continue with at-home or even hybrid work are realizing their quick pivot to remote employment in early 2020 did not always include all of the software, security, and hardware necessary to facilitate at-home or hybrid work as a long-term or permanent solution. As a result, offices looking to take advantage of the productivity, employee health, and other benefits realized by the changing employment environment are investing funds to equip their workers properly. These plans include essential changes such as updating equipment, regulating internet and server connectivity, increasing security, and accomodating remote office printing.

An opportunity for Printer Services

Two factors seem to be feeding into the growth of the office supplies and electronics markets. The first is the need for businesses to re-establish business as usual. The second is the necessity of building out remote spaces for home and hybrid workers. In both cases, the equipment and supplies necessary have changed drastically from the pre-pandemic office space most people remember.

Large printers have, in many cases, given way to smaller and more efficient models to serve lower in-office employee numbers. Rather than less secure consumer-grade printers, many companies are selecting to equip remote workers with smaller, networked desktop printers such as the A3 and A4 models many popular manufacturers now carry. But these equipment purchases mean an ongoing need for ink, toner, and paper. All of these items are things many small businesses used to get from major office supply stores and now scramble to find with other online retailers.

Fortunately, businesses are still in the process of figuring out their supply pipelines and budgets for their “new normal.” But unfortunately, office administration and IT do not always have the expertise to properly determine the best printer configuration and capabilities for a single office, much less for equipping a large number of remote locations. Adding to the trouble are the logistics of providing equipment and ongoing supplies.

Printer leasing, managed services, and office supply providers can seize a part of this industry growth if they pivot quickly to implement robust online sales and eCommerce options. These include supply subscriptions and additional services that make office supply adjustments, tracking, and ordering more straightforward and convenient. Enterprising printing industry professionals should reach out now to help their current and potential partners build out their vision for the new office structure.

With the current mass return to work, the office supply industry is experiencing the boom it needs. However, printing and office supply industry businesses that fail to see the new trends and take advantage of the opportunities in eCommerce sales and supply delivery will be at a fast disadvantage. Now is the time for printer leasing and managed print services businesses to pull in a piece of this unprecedented growth opportunity.

Network Printers Can Be Secured Even In A Hybrid Workspace

Network Printers Can Be Secured Even In A Hybrid Workspace

The slow move to remote work before 2020 was primarily due to concerns about security. Companies understood that securing virtual workspaces required additional investments in hardware and technology beyond the usual firewalls and processes they could implement directly on their internal servers. And at the time, there was no justification for investing the money in creating the infrastructure to facilitate remote work beyond the occasional salesperson’s laptop.

When the pandemic response of early 2020 took full effect, businesses scrambled to figure out ways to continue operating outside the main office. In many cases, thoughts of security were secondary to ensuring employees could continue working. Once the dust settled, IT began implementing the firewalls and secure point-to-point connections required to regain the standard protections for company information. But, as we continue the slow march out of pandemic response, one major business component is still seen as a security risk – printing.

The Problem With Home Printers

Most businesses (90%) don’t know how many printers they have in their central offices. But the real issue isn’t what machines are sitting at headquarters; the growing problem is the number of home printers used for company printing. When these printers are connected to company computers either directly into a USB or through the same wi-fi network, they pose a potential point of attack to the company’s virtual network.

The first and largest vulnerability is having an unsecured, internet-enabled machine connected to a company computer. Bad actors could hack into the local wi-fi and, using the shared connection, gain access to the printer. The link between the printer and the company computer provides a pathway to bypass any VPN or security. And, once in the employee’s computer, hackers can easily view emails, browse computer files, and even gain access to the business’s primary network.

The second vulnerability is the information stored on the hard drive of even the most inexpensive consumer printer. These hard drives store the images of queued documents for a varying degree of time. As a result, hackers who gain access to an employee’s wi-fi can potentially access any company information included on print jobs sent to that consumer-grade machine.

Why Banning Home Printers Doesn’t Work

The simplest solution to eliminating the risk of company information on personal printers is to lock down what equipment can be linked to the company computer. If the employee can’t directly or remotely connect their home printer, the business network is safe, and company information cannot be transmitted to the printer’s hard drive.

do workers print more or less when working from homeBut employees need to be able to print. During the 2020 shutdown, over half of workers (59%) continued to print and copy the same amount or more while working from home. The drive to print certain documents can push employees to find workarounds even when locked out of using the home printer. One method is to send work documents to private email or cloud accounts. Those documents are then accessed from less secure personal computers and sent to consumer-grade printers.

Employees who work a portion of their time in the main office may have a better option, such as printing remotely to the printers at headquarters. However, if the main printer(s) immediately print everything in their queue, there is the risk of documents being picked up by the wrong employees. In addition, there is the risk of office visitors or other departments accidentally viewing information that does not apply to them or should not have been viewed.

Networked Printers Are A Good Compromise

So, remote and hybrid employees need to print. Companies need to maintain security. Unfortunately, the two requirements seem to be at complete odds. The risks consumer printers pose as an entry point for bad actors is dangerous enough. The possibility of criminals using a back door to view sensitive company information or, worse, gaining access to the company’s internal systems is undoubtedly a daunting prospect. But taking the capacity for safe printing away from employees can affect job performance or lead to other potentially risky behaviors.

The best solution is to select an appropriate compromise in networked printers. Small format office-grade printers such as A3 and A4 models can provide fast and efficient printing for the remote workforce. But, unlike consumer printers, they have additional security functionality which allows for document encryption, port security, and remote monitoring.

Cloud Applications And VPN

In addition to hardware-level measures, these small-footprint networkable machines can use cloud applications or VPN – the same as or similar to what is used to lock down other company hardware. Both options continue the point-to-point protection required to make remote printing a safe option for at-home and hybrid workers. And, just like the business’s laptop and desktop computers, fully supported office-grade networked printers have regular security software updates to counteract new digital attack strategies and detected vulnerabilities.

Employees continue to value printing as an essential aspect of their everyday tasks. Innovative businesses will find ways to facilitate the needs of their people. Small format, office-grade, networked printers can be a viable solution for the discerning company as the configuration and idea of the “traditional” office continues to reshape for the post-COVID future.

A Brief History of Printer Paper

A Brief History of Printer Paper

Human ingenuity for storing written communication has always been high. What started on cave walls quickly became more portable as early people used clay, palm leaves, snake skins, tortoise shells, and other handy surfaces to store and share knowledge. However, the desire for a higher level of permanency beyond the cave wall eventually led from dried or fired clay to papyrus and paper.

The Development of Standard Paper

how did they use to make paper

How they use to make paper

Anyone who has held handmade paper can immediately tell the difference from the now much more common store-bought notebook, school, or standard paper. The texture is slightly less even, and the surface is typically thicker and stiffer. The differences lie in the process.

Handmade paper is created by beating, or breaking apart, fibrous materials such as cotton, hemp, or old cloth into their individual strands. These strands are then saturated with water and filtered onto a screen. The wet sheet is then pressed to remove excess water and laid out or hung to dry. Once fully dry, the paper is pressed to flatten the sheet, then cut to the appropriate dimensions for use. In handmade papermaking, this size was usually determined by the widely used “Dutch” standard mold of 44” x 17”, which is cut down evenly to eight 8.5” x 11” pieces.

Today’s commercially available paper adds additional steps to the process, a transformation that began in the 1800s when soda and sulfite pulps were first manufactured from wood. A patent for sulfite pulp was issued in the United States in 1867 and, by 1875, paper production was industrialized.

These sizeable industrial production processes could efficiently pump out almost any paper size imaginable. However, in 1921 the Elimination of Waste in Industry program created by President Herbert Hoover launched the Committee on the Simplification of Paper Sizes. And, to not only eliminate waste but also help handmade paper companies in business, determined to require the standard Dutch sizing – and the official 8.5” x 11” letter was born.

Paper Becomes Smoother and Whiter

The whiter a piece of paper, the more easily the eye can view and distinguish the images and text inked on top of it. So, even before industrialization, whiter paper was a commodity. Before the invention of bleach, papermakers seeking to produce genuinely white paper made their sheets from fine white linen. If that was not available, a bluing agent was added to the water to correct muddiness. Today’s handmade papermakers use a variety of tactics, including newer options such as bleaching and vinegar.

Industrial papermakers benefit from using sulfite pulp rather than rags or other fibers containing additional color. This lack of color means that instead of adding an extra bleaching step to the process, they can add chalk to their mixture before grinding everything down to microfibers. In addition to whitening the resultant paper sheets, the chalk also fills in the gaps that make handmade paper feel courser.

But paper whiteness is not the only difference industrialization has brought to the paper industry. As the world has become more reliant on copying and printing, more efficient machinery has required paper to be smoother. In response, large-scale papermakers have added additional steps to their papermaking process.

Rather than delivering fibers directly from the beating vat to the screen, industrialized paper mills push fibers through a filtration system to clear out additional particles and ensure fibers are a standard size. This homogenous mixture is then forced to spray an even coating across the screens through a nozzle. The result is a smooth surface that can be dried and compressed to the smooth paper sheets required for print.

What do Paper Ratings Mean?

When searching for printing paper, it can often be confusing how many options are available. In addition to selecting the proper sizing (standard, legal, or tabloid), there are a variety of ratings, including brightness, opacity, and texture.

Paper brightness is a measurement of how well the surface reflects light. High brightness is usually a paper that appears whiter and provides heavier contrast between inked letters or images and the background. When making paper, the brightness can be adjusted using minerals and dyes during the pulping process. Printing paper usually comes with brightness ratings between 80 and 113, where the higher numbers are the brighter paper.

Printing Paper Texture

The texture of paper refers to how coarse the surface feels. The level of grain is fundamental when considering paper for laser or inkjet printing. Coarser printer paper is best for inkjet printing as the fibers can capture sprayed pigment and reduce bleeding. However, that same texture could interfere with the heating elements and toner bonding in a laser printer or copier. For laser printers, a smoother paper is more heat resistant and a better choice for more precise prints.

Opacity is a measurement of how well light penetrates the paper. For instance, a paper with a lower opacity would not be suitable for two-sided printing as light easily passes through and displays the ink from the opposite side. Standard 20# copy paper is lower opacity and not recommended for double-sided printing. Opacity is determined by a combination of the brightness and thickness of the paper. Higher brightness and pound ratings will provide lower opacity.

Without the industrialization and development of paper, the digital age would look very different. Fortunately, paper manufacturers have risen to the challenge, developing a wide range of paper options to meet the demands of every office printing purpose and machine. While times have changed, printing paper is still in very high demand.

Network Printers Can Be Secured Even In A Hybrid Workspace

Network Printers Can Be Secured Even In A Hybrid Workspace

The slow move to remote work before 2020 was primarily due to concerns about security. Companies understood that securing virtual workspaces required additional investments in hardware and technology beyond the usual firewalls and processes they could implement directly on their internal servers. And at the time, there was no justification for investing the money in creating the infrastructure to facilitate remote work beyond the occasional salesperson’s laptop.

When the pandemic response of early 2020 took full effect, businesses scrambled to figure out ways to continue operating outside the main office. In many cases, thoughts of security were secondary to ensuring employees could continue working. Once the dust settled, IT began implementing the firewalls and secure point-to-point connections required to regain the standard protections for company information. But, as we continue the slow march out of pandemic response, one major business component is still seen as a security risk – printing.

The Problem With Home Printers

Most businesses (90%) don’t know how many printers they have in their central offices. But the real issue isn’t what machines are sitting at headquarters; the growing problem is the number of home printers used for company printing. When these printers are connected to company computers either directly into a USB or through the same wi-fi network, they pose a potential point of attack to the company’s virtual network.

The first and largest vulnerability is having an unsecured, internet-enabled machine connected to a company computer. Bad actors could hack into the local wi-fi and, using the shared connection, gain access to the printer. The link between the printer and the company computer provides a pathway to bypass any VPN or security. And, once in the employee’s computer, hackers can easily view emails, browse computer files, and even gain access to the business’s primary network.

The second vulnerability is the information stored on the hard drive of even the most inexpensive consumer printer. These hard drives store the images of queued documents for a varying degree of time. As a result, hackers who gain access to an employee’s wi-fi can potentially access any company information included on print jobs sent to that consumer-grade machine.

Why Banning Home Printers Doesn’t Work

The simplest solution to eliminating the risk of company information on personal printers is to lock down what equipment can be linked to the company computer. If the employee can’t directly or remotely connect their home printer, the business network is safe, and company information cannot be transmitted to the printer’s hard drive.

do workers print more or less when working from homeBut employees need to be able to print. During the 2020 shutdown, over half of workers (59%) continued to print and copy the same amount or more while working from home. The drive to print certain documents can push employees to find workarounds even when locked out of using the home printer. One method is to send work documents to private email or cloud accounts. Those documents are then accessed from less secure personal computers and sent to consumer-grade printers.

Employees who work a portion of their time in the main office may have a better option, such as printing remotely to the printers at headquarters. However, if the main printer(s) immediately print everything in their queue, there is the risk of documents being picked up by the wrong employees. In addition, there is the risk of office visitors or other departments accidentally viewing information that does not apply to them or should not have been viewed.

Networked Printers Are A Good Compromise

So, remote and hybrid employees need to print. Companies need to maintain security. Unfortunately, the two requirements seem to be at complete odds. The risks consumer printers pose as an entry point for bad actors is dangerous enough. The possibility of criminals using a back door to view sensitive company information or, worse, gaining access to the company’s internal systems is undoubtedly a daunting prospect. But taking the capacity for safe printing away from employees can affect job performance or lead to other potentially risky behaviors.

The best solution is to select an appropriate compromise in networked printers. Small format office-grade printers such as A3 and A4 models can provide fast and efficient printing for the remote workforce. But, unlike consumer printers, they have additional security functionality which allows for document encryption, port security, and remote monitoring.

Cloud Applications And VPN

In addition to hardware-level measures, these small-footprint networkable machines can use cloud applications or VPN – the same as or similar to what is used to lock down other company hardware. Both options continue the point-to-point protection required to make remote printing a safe option for at-home and hybrid workers. And, just like the business’s laptop and desktop computers, fully supported office-grade networked printers have regular security software updates to counteract new digital attack strategies and detected vulnerabilities.

Employees continue to value printing as an essential aspect of their everyday tasks. Innovative businesses will find ways to facilitate the needs of their people. Small format, office-grade, networked printers can be a viable solution for the discerning company as the configuration and idea of the “traditional” office continues to reshape for the post-COVID future.

4 Inkjet Printer Challenges And How To Fix Them

Inkjet printers are a top choice for businesses that deal heavily in graphics, images, and sales. After all, pie graphs, charts, and advertisements don’t have the same impact without the vibrant colors and clear lines top-rated corporate-grade inkjet systems can provide. But, as with most innovative machinery, they come with their own challenges for upkeep and maintenance to keep them operating at peak performance. Here are four of the most common inkjet problems and some simple steps to resolve them.

White Lines On Your Print Job

Do you need to clean your printerInkjet prints can be more vibrant and impactful. But most offices with inkjet machines have experienced the dreaded white lines. Any of these issues can completely ruin the print job. Often, they become ongoing issues if not dealt with promptly. Fortunately, the usual causes of poor print quality are easily solved with a little bit of care.

One of the most annoying printing problems is when the printer clearly received that data but only part of the document prints. Usually, this results in a series of white lines appearing intermittently throughout each page of a print job. In addition, if multiple pages are printed, the lines will likely line up across them in a similar pattern.

The most common cause of these lines is a blocked nozzle or dirty print head. Entering the printer’s settings and initiating a print head cleaning will usually resolve the issue. The print head cleaning process flushes the printer’s nozzles with forced air to remove dried pigment and clear obstructions. It is recommended to schedule a print head cleaning and a test page to be printed at the beginning of each week to keep the problem from recurring.

If the printer’s standard cleaning process does not immediately resolve the issue, excessive build-up, dust, oils, or other obstructions may be blocking the machine from properly delivering ink. In such cases, it is possible to use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently clean off the print heads. However, manual access to corporate-ready machinery may be limited. Therefore, it is typically best to check the printer’s warranty, maintenance, or service contract before attempting this type of more invasive procedure.

Over-Saturated Images

It is ridiculously frustrating to pick up a full-color print from the printer only to discover the image has bled or the slightest touch causes it to smear. In this case, the printer could be delivering too much ink. Fortunately, commercial-grade printers have settings to address this sort of problem. A recalibration of the ink colors and delivery can help rein in the amount of color being dispensed, creating vibrant prints without the excess bleed or smearing.

If adjusting the print settings doesn’t resolve the issue, the printer cartridges could be the problem. Some off-brand or refilled ink cartridges can have a higher ratio of water-to-pigment than recommended. Higher water content can oversaturate printer paper and result in images that bleed at the edges. Even if the ink is absorbed correctly, it may take the image longer than expected to dry, allowing more colors to smear.

Paper Warping

In addition to bleeding or smeared imager, excessive water in a printer’s ink can easily result in wavy paper. In extreme cases, the paper may be more prone to tearing until the ink is fully dry. In either instance, the result is very unprofessional. But what happens if the ink or the printer settings aren’t stopping the problem? It could be the paper.

The paper used in a laser printer has to be heat resistant because the system uses heat to melt the toner onto the page. Similarly, inkjet printers need paper with a higher level of absorbency. Papers designed for these styles of printers use special chemical coatings to decrease the time it takes for the ink to dry. The reduced drying time keeps the paper from warping and the pigment from blurring at the edges.

But not all paper coatings are created equal. Photo paper, for instance, has a special formulation to handle a much heavier amount of ink than standard paper. So, printing heavily colored designs or images on even regular inkjet-rated paper might be too much for the standard coating to handle.

Ink Streaks

Some printers develop an issue where lines of color inconsistently run across a page, almost like someone took a brush and painted on them. Of course, it doesn’t happen to every page, and it might be a different color in some cases than others. But each page it happens to has to be trashed.

Every printer uses a series of rollers to help move documents through the processes within the machine. As rollers wear down or collect dust, they can start to pick up pigment or grab hold of pages incorrectly. The result is smearing of wet ink across the page as it is pushed through the system. Cleaning or replacing these rollers should resolve the issue.

Like deep cleaning print heads, cleaning or changing out rollers often requires more invasive entry into sensitive office equipment. Therefore, it is highly recommended that users consult the printer’s warranty, maintenance, or service contract.

Contact A Service Partner

The most common inkjet printer problems can usually be avoided with regularly scheduled maintenance from a reliable managed print services or printer leasing partner. Whether it is thorough print head cleaning, checking the rollers, or providing quality inks and papers, these printer experts can help make it even easier for businesses to focus on more important things than bad prints.

3 Things To Do Before Seeking Out A Print Services Provider

The past few years’ events have turned the world of business from a digital-friendly environment into a digital-dependent one. Companies that previously housed their own servers and operated strict policies on equipment leaving the office are now contending with empirical evidence that their employees work just as diligently and securely at home.

But, despite communications becoming ever more digital, there is one-factor companies are finding to be even more surprising – employees’ continuing reliance on print. The typical employee still uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year. That’s roughly 34 pages per day. Faced with the unanticipated demand for print, many businesses are looking to print solutions providers as a potential resource. Here are three things any company should consider before seeking out professional print solutions.

What are the business’s goals for print?

Every company has different intentions for making changes to their existing printing programs. And those business goals can directly influence the exact programs and types of printer service providers the company should pursue.

Some businesses, for instance, are looking to save money on their current printer configurations. Many print services providers offer programs that can achieve this goal. This may include providing better pricing or efficiency for printer ink or toner. It could also consolidate a multi-printer office by implementing a higher-function printer with larger print capacities. Or it could simply be eliminating the expense of IT time and efforts to keep printers up-to-date and operational.

But it’s not always about saving money. Printer service providers help offices become greener, track printer usage and assist in configuring programs to meet the needs of individual offices, departments, and employees. In addition, for businesses going hybrid, print services providers can offer monitoring, security, service, and supplies for multiple offices across the new company footprint.

What Are The Current Faults, Issues, And Risks?

understand your current office print issues

Understanding the exact problems caused by a current print setup is essential information to have before seeking a print solutions provider. Knowledge of exactly what is wrong will help any business determine the best printer partner and help that partner more quickly determine the best equipment and program to offer.

One of the most prominent print problems most companies face is with the printers themselves. This is especially true after the last couple of years as print specifically was considered secondary to simply facilitating continued business as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that attitude now means quite a few companies are dealing with aging printers or machines that no longer fit current office needs.

A thorough evaluation of the machine(s) means noting how often they need to be loaded with paper, ink, or toner. How many times during a day does someone experience a paper jam? How long are print jobs spending in the printing queue? Perhaps most importantly, how much time does the equipment spend out-of-order or being serviced? All of these are significant problems to understand and address.

Security, especially in today’s political climate, is equally if not more concerning than general machine health. And, as with laptops and other connected equipment, printers that are not adequately secured with firewalls, white-listing, VPNs, and other security measures have proven to be a potential security risk. Therefore, evaluating the current security status and precautions is essential to understanding where printer security sits as an opportunity to improve.

Finally, how the company uses printing dramatically impacts the services that can improve business performance and control costs. Oversized machines for a small office that rarely prints are nearly as detrimental to a business as a company equipped with multiple printers, all of which cannot meet demand. Either situation is a risk of lost revenue. Unused machines will collect dust and debris that could impede proper functionality. On the other hand, smaller capacity machines in a print-heavy office may restrict production either through slower printing processes, excessive paper and toner changes, or additional breakdowns from wear and tear.

Research Options

Before reaching out immediately to a printer services provider, it may help to research and understand all the different office printer service options. Internally owned and operated printers, for instance, can still be a popular solution. This is especially appealing for businesses who are comfortable dedicating IT time and efforts to including printer operations.

Printer leasing is another viable option. This solution is especially appealing for companies that would prefer not to absorb the capital expense of one or more high-function printers. Even better, most printer leasing partners can bundle in service and maintenance agreements to help control the costs associated with ongoing cleaning and upkeep. These contracts are especially helpful as equipment ages since most printer leases include options to either purchase outright or upgrade to a newer machine once the lease runs out.

Businesses looking to go completely hand off managed print services (MPS) is the way to go. MPS partners flatten the expense, security, management, and maintenance of machines down to one manageable provider and monthly expenditure. They help pull all those printer-related help desk calls away from IT, too.

When it comes to finding an office printer solution, finding a reliable partner is a big step. Before jumping in with both feet, it is vital to research all the available options, understand the current issues and risks, and compare everything to the current business goals. Businesses that follow these three steps will be better prepared to make the best printer service decisions for their company’s future success.

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