If you've been selling wide format MFP's for some time I think you'll agree that the manufacturers have been slow on refreshing most models from most manufacturers. Aside from KIP with the recent introduction of the KIP 600 toner based color wide format MFP (multi-functional product), the others are just regurgitating the same tired outdated wide formats for the AEC (architect, engineers and construction) market.
Five plus years is a long time to wait for a refresh of an existing model or something completely new. Over the years I've had this talk track with many within the wide format community and the same question arises from every conversation. "What else can be added to wide format MFP's?"
Is it really that hard to design a 10 page document feeder? I don't think so because it should be rather easy. Yes, you would need a larger area to stack the originals for feeding. But it could be designed in a way that it would fold away when not needed. The next question becomes where do the scanned originals stack? That's easy and Ricoh is already doing it with the MP W6700. I kind of like the idea of not stacking the originals as they are scanned but rather to have them exit and then rolled. I'm pretty sure Ricoh had something like this years ago. Clients are asking for document feeders in wide format, the reason most of us don't hear and because we're not asking the question. What a tremendous advantage for the manufacturer that designs one first!
12x18 or 11x17 Paper Trays
With the previous models of Ricoh wide formats there was the ability to add a cut sheet paper tray. That paper tray was capable of holding letter, legal, tabloid and 12x18 (half size of 24x36). Many clients would take advantage of this feature for printing check plots. On some of the higher end toner based wide formats some of the manufacturers offer cut sheet trays. But on most of the low end wide formats the cut sheet paper tray is not offered. I think a cut sheet paper tray should be offered on both low end and high end. Seems to me that the manufacturers are making what they want and not what the clients need.
Original Document Exit Trays
I touched on this with the section under Document Feeder. Whether it's a flat stack or a roll stack device document stacking needs to be an option on all devices (toner and ink). It's archaic that clients still need to feed one document at a time isn't it?
And not the type where the print falls into a cloth basket. My goodness is our industry that cheap that we can't figure out a better system? I know of one manufacturers has a standard exit print stacker and I cringe every time I have to sell against it. Thank goodness that device is at the low end of the market. Which makes my point, if it's possible to design for a low end ink based wide format why oh why can't it be offered on all devices!
Tameran is no longer offering document exit stackers for wide format MFP's. I would tend to think that the manufacturers need to step up their game.
Toner Based Color Wide Format
Here's the next holy grail for wide format. Bring to market a toner based MFP that will have an MSRP of $22K. Thus with the $22K we know where the dealer cost will be. More and more clients want to print color in wide format. What the clients don't like is to have two devices (color and black), clients also don't want to pay the high price of color ink. Coming to market with a toner based wide format will at $22K will eliminate many of the existing color plotters in the field. Reps will be able to cost justify the sale of toner based color wide formats on the supply and maintenance costs.
In the end, I feel like 4-5 years is way to long to wait for a new model. In some cases we as sales people have no upgrade path for the client at the end of a five lease.
All I can hope for is that just maybe this blog will open some eyes and manufacturers will give the clients the features and the price points that will help.