If it's starting to seem like the pandemic has changed everything about normal life, just wait until you hear how it's continuing to complicate the supply chains for printers. That's right: Any business that uses printers needs to prepare for ongoing supply chain issues. Here's what to know.
Supply Chain Woes: It's Not Just Printers
Throughout the pandemic, various parts of the worldwide supply chain have been disrupted. For example, in some areas, new cars are difficult to get (and existing vehicles are difficult to repair and maintain) because parts, computer chips, and even labor are all difficult to find. Unfortunately, this supply chain trouble has expanded to impact printers as well.
What does this mean for businesses? Let's take a closer look:
New Printer Shortages
First things first: If you were hoping to add new printers to your fleet any time soon, you might have to take a rain check.
Modern printers use different kinds of computer chips to manage features, connect to the internet, and more. Although such chips are in just about everything, they're not necessarily easy to make--especially when various parts of the supply chain are still feeling pandemic stress. This has led to a chip shortage, which, in turn, has led to a shortage of new printers.
Ink and Toner Shortages
Maybe you don't need new printers. Are you in the clear?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Even existing printers will be impacted by these supply chain issues because ink and toner are difficult to get, too. They're still available but may be more expensive and slower to arrive--and they might be out of stock for certain makes and models.
One final element of this supply chain struggle is its impact on parts for printers.
That's not just about building new printers, although it does impact the landscape in that way. Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that existing printers can't be repaired and maintained if parts aren't available.
Preparing Your Printers
The bad news is that the supply chain may not correct itself any time soon. The good news is that you can prepare your printers--and your business--to weather the storm.
Here are a few things you can do:
Stock up on ink and toner when you can.
If you see a deal on the ink or toner needed for your printers, don't procrastinate. This stuff is in high demand, which means other businesses are likely to grab it up if you don't take the opportunity. Just make sure to store it in a safe, dry place, so it doesn't end up ruined and therefore wasted.
Create new print rules.
If you can't stock up on ink and toner, you may find yourself with a very limited supply. That means you need to get serious about print rules. Work with your teams to determine what actually needs to be printed or copied and what can be shared digitally instead. This doesn't just save ink and toner; it also saves money and helps build better, smarter printing habits that will outlast these supply chain issues and benefit you in the long run.
Do an in-depth inventory of your fleet.
Let's say you were just about to buy a new printer when you realized the supply chain might make that impossible. Don't give up--you have options.
In some cases, you might be able to put off an upgrade for a few months or even a year. That depends on what you have at your disposal right now--so check to see if your current printers could be optimized for better performance and reliability. It might not be perfect, but it could potentially get you through until a new machine becomes available.
In other cases, you may not be able to put off an upgrade at all. Review your fleet and ask yourself what "the bare minimum" looks like. You might be able to settle for a machine that doesn't have all the bells and whistles but will get you by for now.
Take good care of your machines.
To avoid the need for big repairs (which call for parts that might not be available), make sure you show your printers a little TLC. That means cleaning them regularly, using them gently, avoiding high-speed and high-volume print jobs when possible, and encouraging smart print habits across your company.
In conclusion, supply chain shortages are impacting new printers, ink and toner, and even printer parts. To avoid problems, prepare yourself and your fleet to consume as little as possible and use digital tools when necessary.
Need help navigating supply chain issues? Want support with your printers? Contact us today!