Many authors have dedicated time to emphasize the importance of coverage in an MPS business. I will not disagree with them. Instead it is worthy to analyze coverage from a different perspective: shipping one toner cartridge that is not needed has an impact on the MPS provider’s bottom line equivalent to multiplying the coverage by 2. But opposite of what happens when the printer user exceeds the signed coverage, you can’t bill your customer for shipments exceeded: in MPS it is your responsibility (and not the end-customer’s) to handle shipments according to needs.
How is it possible that a non-needed cartridge is shipped?
The provider of MPS is assuming the responsibility to trigger the delivery of the printer and copier supplies. Because this is done from remote, tools are mandatory to identify when toner and other will be needed, so that they capture the data available in the printer and send it to the remote MPS provider who will then take the decision.
Therefore an MPS solution is based on the data available at the printer level. Unfortunately, only 42% of the most common printer models are MPS compliant (see NubePrint Report issued July’2011).
If I just service MPS compliant models can I get certainty that there will be no false deliveries?
Every printer behaves differently; it is like twin babies: they look similar but each one behaves differently. Therefore servicing a printer is not just being able to capture the data that printer is providing. Once you customize the parameters for one printer model, in most of the cases you can identify the current status of a printer. And I say in most of the cases because from time to time we face a situation in which a specific printer does respond differently to their twin sisters, even when having the same configuration and the same firmware version. Don’t ask why: not even vendor technicians are able to give a response.
How can I acquire security to avoid false deliveries?
Analyzing the behavior of each printer is a must. You can only find non consistent data if you regularly analyze each printer’s behavior. But is it feasible to perform this task on your own? Of course not. Just make this quick calculation: you receive around 10 “pictures” of the printer status per day, each one potentially reporting a consumable need. Should you have 100 printers under service, you should be performing 1,000 verifications a day. If MPS is servicing with efficiency and productivity, then you better find another way to reduce unneeded deliveries.
The MPS tool that receives the data from the printer (via the DCA) triggers the delivery of a consumable. Unfortunately most of the existing tools are facing big accuracy issues. For such a reason there is a new business booming up: these companies filter the MPS alerts issued by MPS tools in order to reduce the number of unneeded deliveries.
A company like NubePrint (www.nubeprint.com) which MPS tool is built for MPS providers, has built in algorithms that minimize the number of false alerts. Despite of all this, this company issues a new filter every ten days. Is this really necessary? Just sit on the MPS provider’s shoes. Each time it ships a cartridge that is not needed is like giving for free a full cartridge. The problem gets worst when you find out that the dealer does not realize about it till the moment in which the number of unneeded deliveries has seriously impacted its P&L and the issue becomes visible and evident.
How big is this problem?
Because shipments in MPS are triggered in an automatic way, in most of the cases it is also synonym of an uncontrolled way. An MPS player not making the point on this will sooner or later experience shrink on margins. Copier dealers, in the MPS business for decades, know about it. Up until recently most of them have been ignoring the issue: “I’m making so much money in global that I do not see it worthy to put in place control processes”. The current economical situation of the market is forcing them to change their mind: number of fleet copiers going down, they now want to optimize their profitability.
Of course controlling coverage is key in order to identify any unexpected usage of each printer. The coverage is the proof to go back to your customer with a proposal to review the price per page. But its impact on the dealer’s bottom line is very limited compared to the impact of shipping unneeded toner. MPS demand from end-customer is supported by their desire to control/reduce their costs. If you are an MPS provider or you pretend to become, you better apply the same argument for yourself: there are great margins behind, but also significant loses if you ignore it.