Photocopiers have come a long way in the last few decades. From being a simple tool for making copies of worksheets and other school documents, today’s photocopiers have been merged with printers and
now allow users to not only copy, but also print, scan and fax documents.
Known as multifunction photocopiers (MFPs) the latest models, such as Konica Minolta’s Bizhub MFP, can also access the internet, be a portal for using software applications, and wirelessly interact with smart phones, laptops and tablets.
There are many benefits to using a multifunction photocopier in place of a range of standalone devices. In particular the cost savings can be quite significant. The technology involved in MFPs has evolved to the point where the cost per page is much lower than that of stand-alone desktop printers, says Jeremy Lane, national manager for education at Konica Minolta Business Solutions New Zealand.
“And of course, MFPs offer functions of greater quality – whether that be print (via colour control tools); distribution (via scanning to email/network/internet/USB or hard drive); or document output finishing (via punching, stapling, folding and booklet making).”
As well as being cheaper to run overall, MFPs also utilise reporting technology that means schools can track costs and monitor departmental or individual usage.
“With Konica Minolta technology you can set limits for certain staff or students, and you can set rules that recommend another print device be used. These print rules are chosen by the school, based on things like cost-effectiveness, peak-usage trends, or security,” says Lane. “A recent trend emerging is card access for MFPs, which can be extended to other ‘purchases’ around the school – parents can view all transactions and add value online if the school is on-charging.”
Even with all this fantastic technology there are times when it just won’t work. Issues such as paper jams, toner issues and print server problems arise and it will be necessary to call out a servicing technician. It is important that the technician is familiar with each school’s particular needs.
“With our proactive service support model (which we call Sentinel Services), we will often know about a potential issue and deal with it before a school is aware of it – since our back-end service system receives information directly from our MFPs. Our goal is to keep our schools operating happily at all times with our MFPs and software,” says Lane. “And we are now introducing an even more advanced system whereby our Help Desk can (with the school’s permission) log-in to the bizhub and help with any MFP issues.”
All the new features and technology in the MFP, combined with the software, servicing and support available can add up to a significant investment but, as Lane explains, there are pros and cons to both purchasing a device outright and leasing it from a supplier.
“When you purchase, you know you can use the MFP for a long time and potentially depreciate its value over its lifetime. However, service requirements may be greater as the technology ages, affecting the quality of the MFP’s performance,” he says.Leasing or renting is sometimes perceived as more expensive in the long-run. But it also has many benefits in that the latest technology can be used and upgrades are easier. “The benefit to a school’s operations from the latest and greatest can also be significant. An example of this that springs to mind is the PageScope Mobile application that lets schools print directly from their smart phones and tablets on the latest Konica Minolta bizhub MFPs,” says Lane.
There is a lot for schools to consider when selecting the right photocopier for their needs, but, by gaining recommendations from neighbouring schools, reading case studies of how MFPs have helped other schools and even trialling the technology for a short time, an informed decision can be made on the most suitable photocopier for the school.