Top Two Maintenance Questions to Ask

By Pat McGrew / Published:

The Right Questions about Maintenance!

Regardless of where you are in the production inkjet press ownership cycle, maintenance should be on your mind. It represents an on-going touchpoint for the life of the press, and unless you are monitoring your needs against the maintenance contract on a regular basis, it’s easy for your needs to get out of sync with the realities of the legal obligations.

In Part 1 came the bold statement that Everything Is Negotiable. It is. These are big investments that impact your business and production workflows, so the maintenance contract becomes a central point of concern. As you are buying your first inkjet press, or even your fifteenth, you won’t know everything that could happen or what you might truly need to keep your operation humming, so be prepared to go back and have more than a few conversations as you discover what your team requires to meet your production schedules.

Here is a recap of the basic questions:

  • What is included in my maintenance contract?
  • What is not included?
  • What are the daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities for my operators and how much time will it take?
  • What is the cost of having a technician onsite for the first three months of operation?
  • Is there an additional cost if I need an expert to come in to resolve a problem?
  • Is there remote technical service available, either through the web, augmented reality applications, or using mobile apps?
  • What training is provided for my team onsite?
  • What advanced training is available and at what cost?
  • Is there an uptime guarantee?
  • Are their credits back to me if my uptime does not meet agreed percentages or hours?

Let’s dive into each one over the next couple of installments.

What is included in my maintenance contract?

Your maintenance contract will vary based on your vendor, your relationship with your vendor, the type of inkjet equipment you acquire, how many devices will be supported, and your vendor’s approach to pricing for support time, onsite technician support, maintenance consumables, and their approach to replacement parts. You should be asking deep questions about exactly what is included and if the consumables included in your maintenance contract have limits. For example, if your machine requires wipers, blade, caps, or other physical replacement parts, is there a limit to how many are covered before you see a charge for excess use within a month or over the course of a year? Ask for a detailed accounting, and then go over it with your production staff to see if they are comfortable with the terms. If you have experience inkjet operators, they can give you the best appraisal of how the contract aligns with their experience.

Listen for answers that are comprehensive, but also listen for gaps. Draw tight boxes around every entitlement identified in your contract, and work to set milestones and touchpoints where your needs can be adjusted to best meet your needs.

What’s not included in my maintenance contract?

This will vary by contract but start with all the maintenance touchpoints and ask questions about each one. In some contracts print heads are included in the contract. Review the contract carefully to understand what happens if you begin to see a higher than average number of head failures. At what point are you eligible for a new print head? Is it determined by the number of damaged nozzles, or some other metric? If the heads are included, but you are responsible for installation, review the costs for returning print heads to the manufacturer. Ask if they will stage extra print heads during your ramp up period. If the heads are included and they will do the physical replacement, is there a firm commitment on how long you might have to wait for a technician to perform the installation?

If your contract does not include print heads, some of the same questions apply. While today’s print heads tend to have longer lives than previous generations, sometimes lasting more than two years before warranting replacement, you will want to have a clear understanding of what the metrics are for head replacement. What constitutes a damaged printhead? Is it based on metrics that are easy to identify? Will the press notify the operator when heads require replacement? What happens if you replace a print head, and that print head fails?

Listen for answers the specifics that define your responsibilities. Strive for specifics so that you understand exactly what is expected of your team.

There are a million questions in inkjet city. Come back next time for a deeper dive on the questions to ask and the answers to listen for! Have questions? Ping me on LinkedIn or drop a note to


About the Author

Pat McGrew


Pat is a well-known evangelist for inkjet productivity. At McGrew Group, she uses her decades technical and marketing experience to lead the industry toward optimized business processes and production workflows. She has helped companies to define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Pat is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight and

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