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Mind the Gap

Peter Laplanche
September12/ 2014

At least when you pull into a tube station someone forewarns you of the ‘gap’ as you step from the train to the platform. But it can be a different world out in your warehouse where you’re relying on your mobile printer to keep producing the barcode labels you need to despatch your goods. Few service providers prepare you for the gap in services and the real costs of having your mission critical printers removed from site for repair.

All-inclusive service packages on printers promise reliability and excellent value for money – some even cover print-heads and accidental damage for three or more years. That should give you piece of mind and a fixed outlay and you never have to worry about it again. But, a bit like the station platform, fully managed service contracts often fall short of your train and it’s not uncommon for retailers to have to invest a lot of extra work in their environment to make the gap in their contract work.

A good service provider manages the logging and follow up processes that traditionally accompany a ‘return to base’ service. However, the fundamental ‘gap’ of using this service will still be there, and the reason it’s still there is that in order to be cost effective, the service – even all-inclusive ones – have to be ‘return to base’ (RTB) solutions.

If you’re unfamiliar with an RTB solution it’s where your printer is sent away to be fixed when it goes wrong. Often businesses only look at the financial savings offered by all-inclusive solutions and either forget or don’t consider the other costs, often unseen, that are incurred. Costs like having to commission additional IT skilled resources on site to help manage loop stock, or you having to learn how to bridge the gap when your valuable print assets are removed or rotated in and out of use for repair.

If you commission an RTB service you need to consider how you will:

  1. administer the process
  2. manage the assets properly
  3. operate your business while the printer is away
  4. manage the replacement of a spare/pool printer
  5. configure that replacement printer
  6. track the movement and operational ability of individual printers
  7. extract the same level of management information to help you plan and budget the future print strategy for your business

Withdrawing on-site engineers to save money when combined with a lack of alternative IT knowledge on site means that some of these simple steps become large ‘gaps’ in the operational process of IT provision. Fundamentally, it means that you’re facing downtime in your warehouse, which is costing you more than money, it’s also your reputation at stake.

One way that retailers and e-commerce businesses are increasingly choosing to bridge the gap is using a remote engineer service. It’s a way of putting a ‘presence’ on site without physically doing it. Datatrade developed Reg., a tailored, simple solution that users can set-up and manage themselves and which is, more importantly, configured to their own printers, their support processes and their IT infrastructure.

In the fast moving world of e-selling when you need to maximise uptime of your mission critical printers you don’t want your service package to fall short. A mobile service like Reg. bridges that gap, it’s like having the specialist knowledge and skills on board without the engine driver and costs about half the actual cost of a normal service package.




Peter Laplanche

Printer expert, Peter Laplanche, handles the strategic direction of Datatrade, which specialises in business critical printing.