In 2020, the world experienced some unique situations in our lifetimes. First, a worldwide pandemic sent many workers from the office to their homes. This led to a global economic shutdown that has caused all sorts of supply chain problems. We've all heard about the infamous global chip shortage, which has led to massive issues in all sorts of industries. The copier and printer industry is no different. Copiers and printers both have chips that help the devices function. Along with the copier itself, most ink and toner cartridges have chips that help monitor toner levels and let you know when your toner is running low. Copier manufacturer supply issues continue to affect the supply of devices, supplies and components available.
What are copier manufacturers doing to ease these supply issues?
Many copier and printer manufacturers are experiencing backorders because of the chip shortage and the lingering effects of the slowed-down production of the global economic shutdown. Other manufacturers have been dealing with supply shortage problems. Konica Minolta is still dealing with a fire and explosion at their toner production plants, leading to a shortage of toner supplies. Customers on Reddit forums and other internet boards speak of months' long waits for new supplies. The factories are back online and running, but catching up has proven to be difficult with so much downtime.
Just last week, Xerox acknowledged they are dealing with a $300M backlog in orders that it can't ship. Xerox is dealing with supply chain issues and has begun to look for alternative chips for device manufacturing. When manufacturers can source chips, they have difficulty getting them to their production facilities. They have announced they are looking for alternative ways to transport parts to get them where they need to be, but no definitive answers have been provided.
The chip shortage that affects the manufacturing of new copiers and printers is also affecting toner supplies. Many toner cartridges contain a chip for two reasons - 1) to monitor how much toner is actually in the cartridge and 2) to ensure that the same company manufactures the toner cartridge placed in the printer or copier as the device. With the chip shortage, some manufacturers have begun producing "unchipped" toner to meet demands. While chipless toner cartridges will allow for quicker manufacturing, don't expect to monitor toner levels with these.
What can businesses do to help ensure they can get the equipment, supplies and services they need?
While industry analysts believe that the supply chain issues manufacturers are experiencing will be temporary, some experts have stated that copier supply issues may continue to plague companies. If your business is thinking about leasing a new copier or print device, or if your lease is expiring within the next 24 months, there are several factors you should consider during this time. These include:
- Will I be able to get a new device? The answer to this question depends upon what you're looking for. Some manufacturers are not experiencing issues with all devices, and they have inventory available now. As an authorized dealer of Sharp and Canon equipment, we have been able to keep our warehouse stocked throughout this predicament and have devices available to deliver today. That may not be the case for all dealers. Talk to your dealer about your needs and if there are supply issues with the devices that meet those needs. Don't settle for a device that meets some of your needs but leaves others unanswered. If you're working with a manufacturer, consider looking at a local copier dealer that can offer you more than just one brand. This will open up your options and allow you to get the equipment you need.
- Can I get supplies for any new devices? As stated above, some manufacturers are having issues getting supplies for equipment. Do your research and do a Google search on supplies for the manufacturers you consider. Just getting a new device from a manufacturer doesn't mean supplies will be available. Dealers like us at Fraser have onsite warehouses, and we have the ability to keep supplies in stock and ready for customers who need them. While many dealers may have a "just in time" purchasing practice, Fraser is committed to keeping supplies available to customers by purchasing stock in bulk to keep customers up and running.
- What kind of service can I expect with my new device? One of the most critical pieces to consider when leasing new copiers and printers is the service you'll receive from your dealer. The pandemic caused many dealers to have to furlough employees, and with the current labor shortage, they may not have a full staff ready to handle service issues. Just because a dealer can provide you with the device you need, and supplies doesn't mean that you'll have an optimal experience if the service isn't good. Ask the dealer about their response times, how long you will wait if you have issues and ask for references. A dealer should also monitor customer feedback and provide you with metrics of customer satisfaction like a Net Promoter Score. Fraser offers all of these options to ensure we meet customer needs and provide industry-leading service. Google helps with online reviews of actual customers who have worked with the dealer and provides you with real information.
To avoid these copier manufacturer supply issues, do your research and consider working with a local dealer that offers more than one line of equipment. This will provide you with options to make a more informed decision. The supply chain issues aren't likely to go away anytime soon, but there are choices you can make to keep your business up and running efficiently. At Fraser, our warehouse is stocked with the latest gear and supplies ready to deliver today.