Maintain Now or Pay Later

By Lois Ritarossi / Published:

Inkjet presses from many equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have delivered on the promise of lower cost, higher throughput, and better uptime. Many in-plant print operations attribute part of their success to their inkjet adoption strategy. Performing regular preventative maintenance is the  key to drive uptime and excellent image quality.

No short-cuts

COVID-19 has created many unexpected changes in production schedules and staffing models. Proper preventative maintenance is more important than ever in this unpredictable situation. Some in-plant printers, like those in school districts, are experiencing dramatic increases in print volumes. In contrast, some in-plant operations have temporarily shut down as communications from their organizations have moved to digital distribution.

Most organizations are experiencing challenges in staffing and managing print volumes. Preventative maintenance according to your OEM’s prescribed schedule is critical to optimizing uptime and producing excellent print quality.

Pennies and minutes vs. dollars and hours

Inkjet presses run best when they are continually running multiple shifts every day. Operators may be tempted to save time in the moment and not perform a scheduled maintenance process. Operators may be busy running jobs or filling in for staff unable to work. They may lack the confidence or skill to perform each maintenance process. Some operators may opt to skip proscribed maintenance steps. This short-term thinking often results in unplanned downtime that can negatively impact production turnaround in the days and weeks ahead.

Service Matters

OEM service teams are working hard to keep printers running to meet the needs of their customers and communities. Many have modified policies and procedures to be responsive to the health concerns and operational changes at their client’s plants due to COVID-19. Several service managers shared how their teams are supporting printers during the crisis.

Ricoh maintains most of the VC series installed inkjet lines. Their service teams are all working and driving to customer locations. They have instituted safety measures for wearing masks and cleaning equipment. Many customers are experiencing changes in their shift scheduling. Some customers are needing additional support to plan for extended downtime. The Ricoh service team is supporting  customers with service and installations during the crisis. Ricoh has expanded their Ricoh Business Booster program with additional content to assist customers experiencing changes in their operations. They have posted more training videos and are providing more community connections among customers.

Canon has postponed non-critical service support, like software updates so their service team can focus on customer needs for productivity and uptime. The Canon service team is also assisting customers who are planning for extended shutdowns with detailed procedures to clean equipment so it will perform optimally when it is powered up. Canon has enhanced its service support by enabling customer to use its video support system and connect directly to higher level technical support resources in Boca and in Europe. Canon has removed the need for a service technician to be involved in submitting a request on behalf of a customer. Customers are experiencing increased responsiveness to technical issues.

Konica Minolta has expanded their service team, so technicians are in driving distance to all customers. They have also adopted new health security measures for service teams working onsite at client facilities. For the KM1 series, Konica Minolta has created training and content so press operators can do the scheduled maintenance on their own. This fits the strategic model of KM1 installations replacing offset presses and being run by operators accustomed to performing their own maintenance.

Do it Right

OEMs have expanded online help, and training videos to support customers and minimize onsite support where possible. Each inkjet platform has a unique design and a proscribed series of steps for preventative maintenance. It is ill-advised to skip any steps. Insist that your operators are following the defined process to ensure the printer is in the optimal state for the next job and the next shift. Avoiding any steps in the process may degrade print quality or require additional maintenance and down-time to get back to optimization.

Well-run print organizations know the importance of regularly completing preventative maintenance to create predictable outcomes for their customers. Preventative maintenance takes time today but saves money for tomorrow.

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About the Author

Lois Ritarossi

Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, an independent management consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors.

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