There's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to using old office equipment – like copiers and printers – because they're still working.
Are you a “buy, don't lease, find a trusty mechanic because the car dealer will always rip you off” kind of a buyer? If so, I suspect you might also have a 10 year old copier sitting around that you have no plans to ever replace as long as it’s working. Why replace it until it breaks, right?
The fact is that just because your trusty old office equipment might still be cranking out pages, you could be missing out on advancements in equipment technology that will not only make you say, “how did I ever live without this before,” but might also save you some money in the process!
Office equipment, like vehicles, can be an expensive investment to make. But the reality is that technology is moving at such a rapid pace that, just like your vehicle that immediately depreciates the second you drive it off the lot, office equipment has a point of diminishing returns.
Thankfully, technology depreciation is not quite as hard of a hit as an automobile. Most office equipment comes with software upgrade capabilities that keep security and features performing as they should for a reasonable amount of time with firmware upgrades. However, keywords here are, “reasonable amount of time.”
So just what is a reasonable time to keep a copier going?
The answer really depends on a number of factors.
#1 - Security
One of the most important things to know about keeping an older copier in your fleet is the risk that it may pose to you, your employees, and your customer’s personal information as it is an often overlooked security vulnerability. Newer devices come with multi-layered levels of security for a reason.
Hackers have found that older equipment, with little or no protection or user authentication, are the easiest way to gain access to your network. Hard drive encryption is another important component on many newer models with overwrite functions to protect private information copied on your device such as social security numbers, statements, employee addresses, and customer names. Don’t leave this one to chance. If you have any doubt about how secure your copier is, chances are it isn’t secure at all.
#2 - Image Quality Control
I am always amazed at the level of tolerance that people have for a bad copy. What people often forget is that that bad copy with the line through it, or the bands of color when it’s supposed to be solid, can have a lasting impression on those you do business with.
Copier toner technology is always evolving, making image quality better (and less expensive) everyday. If you find yourself running to the copy shop around the corner more and more, it might be time to consider a look at a cost-saving, color hybrid solution. Color and black and white copiers are now more affordable than ever, and give small business operators the power to couple everyday copying with the perk of superior color output when you need it for a fraction of the cost to outsource to a Kinkos.
#3 - Bells and Whistles
These things might seem like buzzwords, but cool features such as wireless printing, cloud integration, remote troubleshooting, and real-time diagnostic reporting, were invented for a reason — they are awesome and can greatly increase your office productivity. (Not to mention they make you look like a technical genius when a customer wants to print something from their phone!) Think about it - has a new technology ever NOT impressed you? (I will admit, I’m not sure we will ever really be ready for those Segways to be mainstream, but you get the point!)
#4 - Operating Expenses
Part I - Maintenance
Just like cars, as copiers get older, they require more maintenance. If you are on a first name basis with your copier tech, and maybe even considering inviting them to your Thanksgiving table this year, it might be time to cut ties. Copier repairs can get expensive, and many newer machines come equipped with real-time, diagnostic reporting that can help keep you on a reasonable preventative maintenance schedule so you are not drowning in repair fees.
Part II - Energy
Ever seen those Energy Star logos on newer copiers? They mean something—to your electric bill. It’s true, older equipment will draw more energy (especially when you leave it on 24/7) because newer technology is designed to operated on less.
A simple way to determine how much your older equipment could be drawing in a typical month is with a kilowatt meter. It’s also good practice to be sure your copier is only on when you need it to be. Many devices can be defaulted to go into standby mode to draw less energy when not in use. No need to pay just to have your copier on all the time.
#5 - New Copier Smell
It’s true, there’s not much better than the smell of the inside of a brand new car. The same can be said for a new copier. Many upgrades are more compact, saving you office space, feature faster warmup times, and best of all, have improved user interfaces that are more intuitive to use. All things that add up to less time for you having to help your teams use the copier. Happy copier users=happy office life.
Change is sometimes scary, but think of computers and tablets. When computers first came out, you had to manually load the operating system from a floppy disk, and each and every program you wanted to use. Fast forward to today where computers have now been pretty much replaced with tablets and mobile devices. Running a program is now an app that can be downloaded in seconds, and there is virtually no need to know what goes on behind the scenes anymore.
Ask yourself - have you ever replaced something (anything - a car, a phone, carpet, an appliance) and regretted it? Most likely not. Do yourself a favor and lose the dead weight and upgrade that dinosaur.