Modern imaging devices report pretty accurate toner levels with 1% accuracy. But still many only offer 5, 10, 20, 25% or even “OK” versus “Low” levels. In other words, they show a limited compliance to MPS.
The MPS technology vendors know about this. And most of them are ignoring the consequences of not informing their customers about the damages that low MPS compliance causes to the income.
Some experts in the market do propose different solutions to handle the risks around it. Following are some proposals that can be found in dedicated blogs:
1) The dealer must evaluate the fleet before enabling low level supply alerting. As a result, a printer which lowest toner level shown is 25% will have its threshold manually defined by the dealer at 25% or more, making sure that the alert is really generated. This proposal raises the following concerns:
- How does the dealer know that a certain printer has a level indicator that is limited to 25%? Is he/she an expert?
- Does he have to do it every time he has a printer of this kind?
- How much is then going to cost the dealer to implement an MPS contract if every time he/she has to spend so much time in presetting parameters?
- Is the dealer responsible for the fact that the printer is low MPS compliant and that his MPS tool is not able to cope with these limitations?
- Is this task really the responsibility of the dealer? Does he/she have the knowledge to address every single model he/she has to manage?
2) Leave those devices that are low MPS compliant out of the contract. The variety of models and manufacturers existing in an MPS contract is such that there is a lack of MPS compliance homogeneity overall. But this approach raises some strategic concerns:
- Would this mean that the dealer will tell its customer that it only manages part of the fleet?
- Would the customer accept it or would he just look for someone that would kindly accept managing the whole inventory?
- Wouldn’t this approach result in losing the whole customer, and not only the management of those non-compliant printers and copiers?
3) Replace the low MPS compliant printers and copiers with higher MPS compliant devices. The proposition consists basically on telling the customer “listen, I’ll replace your printer that has 12,000 copies on it (though its potential is for 300,000 copies) with a new one because I do not know how to manage it, and, by the way, you’ll pay for the new one”. Uhmmm! I believe those times went away since the companies found out, thanks to the recent financial crisis, that the profit is the result of sales minus expenses, and that controlling and reducing the expenses is a great investment.
4) Separate the “good” devices from the low MPS compliant printers and manage them separately. As a result the dealer is then putting in place 2 procedures in parallel: one automatic and one manual.
- Isn’t this expensive for the dealer?
- But even worse, you are asking the customer to manage 2 procedures too: depending what the printer it is, will the customer have to call for a toner or just wait for its automatic shipment?
The reality is that the customer will just keep managing everything manually, with big expenses both for him and for the dealer in terms of infrastructure needed (call center, warehouse, duplicated deliveries), resulting in a lack of control and a lack of satisfaction.
The usage of MPS management software to handle an undetermined variety of printers and copiers that behave differently is causing big frustration to the dealers. If we were in the automotive business, the SW vendors would be requested to clearly identify and publish the risks and limitations of their tools. Questions like what printer models is your MPS software tool managing?, for which specific supplies?, what degree of accuracy does your consumable replacement alerts meet?, these are questions that should and must be part of the public documentation of any MPS software.
Instead most of the MPS SW vendors present their product as if it was “the” solution to the problems of the dealers in MPS. The fact is that it is the source of most of the problems a dealer has when in MPS:
- back office costs multiplied,
- increasing delivery costs,
- lost control,
- lack of profit.
Some may argue that they are not aware of the consequences that their software is causing to the dealers. This is hard to believe though: the limitations of printers and copiers from an MPS perspective is public information since July 2011 when the first Nubeprint Report about MPS Compliance was published.
Some others may say that they are not responsible for the damages, because these are really the consequence of a poor MPS compliance of the printer or copier. It is true that the result is much different depending on how good is the device in terms of MPS. Indeed it is the combination of a poor MPS compliant device and a tracking MPS tool what causes damages to the dealer. It is then fair to pretend that the printer and copier manufacturers assume their part of responsibility.
The discussion of who is then responsible for minimizing the risks around MPS can take long: the SW vendor, the dealer providing MPS or the device manufacturer. But to my understanding, the responsibility of the dealer is limited to making the right usage of the tools he gets. He is just delivering a service using what is available in the market. Of course the dealer has to assume the final risk, but he is not at all the one to identify and measure it, simply because he is being told by all other parties that he can offer an MPS service with what he gets. It is hard though to see software vendors or hardware manufacturers publishing the limits of using their products for MPS. And this lack of transparency has a dramatic consequence for the dealer: the MPS business becomes some kind of gambling game where you never know how much profit the dealer will make, if any at all.
There are three basics that all players in the MPS business must adopt.
- Basic three:
The device manufacturer is, to our understanding, the party with the biggest influence when it comes to talk about minimizing the risks around MPS. The MPS compliance of printers and copiers is the third most important MPS basic. The lack of accuracy in providing levels or any other relevant information causes the dealer thousands and hundreds of thousands of losses in toner waste. But the trend in the market is not clear, even random. While we have seen companies moving towards more MPS compliant products, we have also seen the opposite trend. This translates into a demystifying message that we see quite often: newer products are more MPS compliant and solve the risks around MPS.
Therefore, the belief that short term the dealer can reduce the risks by replacing products with new ones is a very expensive false illusion.
- Basic two:
The MPS SW vendor is not exempted from responsibilities. It has the obligation to know to which extend its product is useful for the dealer, meaning it solves the dealer’s problems. And this information must be published. The second MPS Basic is therefore to have a clear statement of the extent to which an MPS solution has limited results when managing certain printers or type of printers, and the consequences for both the dealer providing the service and the end-customer. Nubeprint’s report on MPS compliance is an index, a reference that anyone can use to say if its application solves this hardware built-in limitation, or not. Now it is up to the different SW vendors to be transparent and share with their customers how much they help their MPS business.
- Basic one:
It is a fact that still nowadays most of the parties hide the risks of MPS. Just a few companies or individuals have the courage to reveal and lead open discussions about this subject. The first MPS basic is then to project the values of honesty and fairness in the attitude towards all stakeholders. If we really want the industry of MPS to succeed, all parties must collaborate on first identifying the risks, and second reducing them. It is not fair to let just one party, the dealer, support the burden.
The parties involved in the MPS business do have the responsibility to make things right. We have to look long term. We have to add value to this great opportunity called MPS, instead of just adding short term value to our selling numbers. If we do not do that, we will definitely loose the opportunity to make those great things that the society is expecting from us:
- reducing CO2 emissions (by reducing the toner wasted and the number of times a technician visits each printer),
- finding an economic rationality in using the printer (by adapting the resources available to the actual needs),
- improving the results of the end-customer (by eliminating the “kleptomania” of toner cartridges),
- improving by more than 50% the efficiency in stocking cartridges (by stoking based on future needs and not based on what was sold a year ago).
Since we founded Nubeprint, the premise has always been to actively participate on a global deployment of MPS, not only for the largest end-customers, but for one-printer customers too. Small companies and SOHO (Small Office Home Office) have no internal controls established other than the spontaneous need for printing of the owner. The dealer works quite often as their consultant for printing, and plays a critical role in the distribution chain. By providing the dealer with tools and know-how, he/she can shift from transactional to service in a solid way. This must be the goal that all parties, Hardware manufacturers, Supplies re-manufacturers and SW vendors have in common.