While it used to be commonplace for businesses to simply purchase one large central copier for the whole office to use (“central printing”), it is becoming more and more common for businesses to instead buy several smaller printers (“distributed printing”).
In this article, we will explore the advantages of both approaches and give a few of the reasons why some businesses that used to rely on central printing have made the switch to distributed printing.
How Central Printing Works
To set up a central printing system you simply need to purchase and set up a large copier in the office. Everyone that works in the office uses the same printer, regardless of how often they print.
Central Printing Advantages
The advantage of central printing is that it is lower cost than distributed printing is. There are two reasons for this:
- Lower purchase cost. Simply put, buying one large copier can be cheaper than buying several desktop printers.
- Lower cost per page. Larger office copiers also tend to have a lower cost per page than desktop printers.
How Distributed Printing Works
To set up a distributed printing system you first split up your employees by their printing needs. Those that print most often, or that have specialized printing needs (for example an accountant that frequently needs to print cheques), then receive their own printers. The remainder will then either not receive a printer or will share a smaller central office copier.
Distributed Printing Advantages
Although central printing may look like it has a lower dollar cost, distributed printing is much more flexible and can lead to an increase in office productivity. There are a few ways that distributed printing can save you time.
- Walking time. Simply put, it takes time to get to and from the printer.
- Talking time. It is human nature to socialize. If two employees both pass by each other en route to the printer, a conversation is more than likely going to get struck up.
- Reducing errors. The more people that have to use the same printer, the more opportunities there are for errors such as printing on the wrong paper.
- Confidentiality. HR and accounting departments often print sensitive documents.
Although harder to quantify than monetary costs, productivity costs can be quite significant over the course of a week. If you can get a couple more productive hours out of your employees every week you’ll likely save much more money than you would by reducing your cost per sheet by a couple of cents.
If properly set up, distributed printing is also much more convenient for you and your employees and can reduce printer-related frustrations. How many times have you walked out to the central copier only to find out that you forgot to hit the print button on your computer, or that someone filled the tray with colour paper and forgot to remove it when they were done?
Better Customer Experience
For customer-facing businesses distributed printing often makes the most sense. Having a desktop multifunction printer at the counter allows you to print and scan documents for your customers without having to break the conversation. Adding a computer with a dedicated printer to your “closing area” also allows your salespeople to quickly and easily print quotations or contracts seamlessly during their sales presentations.
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