Recently I had this discussion with one of our clients who was complaining that their colour MFP service rate was too high. Of course rates are not set arbitrarily, they are based upon the real operating costs of the device being used.
The client has a 40 ppm A4 (letter/legal) mfp and when some further analysis was done there was a lot learned. I have to credit our customer support specialist who took the initiative to look at the service reports from the device and start to analyse their use of the machine.
What did it show?
Some very important data. Their average use for black toner was in excess of 12.5% coverage. For each of the three colour toners their average ranged from a low of 8.4% to a high of 10.5%. When we figured out the actual colour toner use their average page was close to 37% coverage. This data was collected over about a two year period so we knew the use was consistent and not subject to periodic peaks which was skewing the numbers.
Toner yields on mfp's are rated at either 5% or 6% coverage, depending upon the manufacturer. 12.5% is two and one half times the rated yield for the device in question. This means that for a toner rated at 20,000 images they could actually expect to get only 8000 images per cartridge. This usage was obviously factored into the support (click charge) they were paying and was reflected in their service costs.
For colour the issue was very similar. A simple calculation for the projected colour yield is the sum of the 4 yields at 5% for a total coverage of 20%. The 37% coverage shown in the device records is 85% higher than the rated amount expected. This means that on average instead of the 15,000 images per cartridge that would be expected only 8100 would be printed. Again, this is reflected in the cost of operation the client experiences.
So why were they using so much toner? Was it the only factor?
The answer to the first question is primarily because of the design of the pages they were printing. Here's a sample of the type of mono document they were using.
Any idea why they are using a lot of black toner? Each of those bars is solid, heavy black. Is this needed to communicate what the document is designed to do? Would a grey or shaded contrast work as well. It certainly will reduce the toner use.
They do similar things with their colour documents as well. By thinking about the design and what the real need of the document might be, they substantially reduce their cost.
The document design for their output was the primary factor but not the only one. Further analysis indicated that they had a number of colour documents printing when mono would have been fine. By putting the right tools in place to manage the use of colour their overall costs of operation are decreased.
Has the total issue been solved? Not entirely as they still think that the costs for printing in their operation are higher than they would like. The do, however, understand how their actions can affect these costs and help them control their own environment.
How does your document design affect your bottom line? Have you taken steps to understand your cost of printing?