Copier Feng Shui


Digital copiers aren't a magic wand - too few or too far apart and you could still be losing money.

One of the least talked about aspects of buying digital copiers and printers is placement.

Many businesses stick the copier wherever it'll fit (particularly the larger models). Other equipment is placed for personal convenience of whoever shouts loudest in the office. Rarely is much thought given to equipment placement that will maximize productivity.

This placement is one of the hidden advantages of implementing managed print services. By doing some “copier feng shui” your MPS partner works with you to identify your print and copy needs and then places the right equipment in the right place.

Research from InfoTrends, Device Underuse and Unbalanced Fleets, sheds some light on how placing printers, copiers, and multifunction printers here, there, and everywhere in offices hurts productivity and increases costs.

Placement and Productivity

Many SMBs have reduced the overall number of printers and copiers in the office and centralized on larger, more feature-rich digital copiers. Done correctly, this can be an effective print output strategy. However, many companies just look for a central location for a smaller number of devices. Combined with the fact that fewer devices might not be the best approach for a business, placement can harm productivity.

For offices with 1-499 employees, 37.3 employees share a color laser copier MFP and 37.5 share a black and white laser copier MFP. Large number of employees sharing these devices makes sense, given that they often replace personal desktop models.

The InfoTrends paper calculated the productivity costs of increased walking time to retrieve print jobs. They calculated that an office with 500 employees printing five jobs per week and with two minutes of round trip walking time would spend 4,333 hours per year of employee time walking to the copier and then back to their desk. You can see what they calculated this cost to be below.


More Devices “Could” Equal More Productivity

On the surface, simplifying your copy and printing needs to fewer devices makes perfect sense. Given the cost of walking, that could just be an illusion.

For your business, having a larger number of more basic devices spread throughout your office in key locations could be more cost-effective. Not only are devices handier for employees, there are more backup machines available when an employee's regular device breaks or needs maintenance.

What Do YOU Need?

Before buying or leasing copiers and/or printers, you need to understand what your real print needs are.

  • How much do you print in color?
  • Do some departments print more than others?
  • Are they centrally located?
  • Do your volumes vary?
  • Do you need finishing options?
  • How confidential are the documents you print?

These questions, and more, need to be asked and answered so that you (or a managed print services partner) can identify what your document output needs really are, what equipment you need, and where that equipment should be located for the most bang for your buck.

I know, walking is healthy. However, disruptions during the business day aren't. Office equipment and printing costs are a big part of every business' infrastructure spending, work with someone to make sure you spend on the right things.


About The Author

Dave Quint, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Inc. and immediate past president of BTA Mid-America. Dave has worked with copiers, MFPs, scanners, and document workflow software since joining Advanced Systems as a sales associate in 1989. His favorite part of the job -- “there is no greater joy than to see the positive impact these solutions have in our client’s businesses.’