Look at the total cost of ownership – not just price – when buying a printer

Searching for a new printer or multifunctional device (MFD) can easily become a time-consuming undertaking. As part of your research and selection process, it’s likely that you will end up using a variety of information sources such as product reviews, comparisons, opinions about vendors and their customer satisfaction ratings to help you arrive at a decision.

No matter how extensively you search and no matter how varied the types of information you use to make your choice, there is one critically-important area that, in my opinion, you should always include in your pre-sales analysis.

Figure out the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Traditionally, the TCO calculation has been used to help buyers and owners determine the direct and indirect costs of purchasing a product. A TCO calculation allows you to place a single value on the complete lifecycle of a purchase. This value includes every phase of owning a product, for example, acquisition, operation and running costs plus maintenance and any future upgrades.

TCO is a very common analysis that is conducted by supply chain and IT departments as part of their decision-making, but there is nothing to say it can’t be used by a home user or a business owner of a small enterprise.

The TCO calculation enables you to work out how much a printer will cost you in total for the period of time that you intend to use it.

How does total cost compare to the price?

TCO highlights the difference between the purchase price and the overall long-term cost.

Depending on the type of print technology you have chosen, and the amount of printing you intend to do, running a machine could cost you between two and six times the purchase price.

In addition, not all consumables are created equal. Buyers are sometimes lured by the prospect of low-cost consumables only to find that they need to be replaced with unacceptable frequency.

Be savvy and don’t get tempted by a cheap hardware price or the small price tag for a toner – you need to look further than the price. Don’t get bamboozled by the science – the rest of this article will equip you with the information you need to ask, with confidence, what the printer will cost you for its entire lifecycle.

Three key components to TCO calculations

1. Acquisition / physical hardware costs

This is the cost of the printer invoiced to you by a vendor. In the business sector, products are very often leased, so the cost here is the cost of leasing over the period of time.

2. Printing costs

What does it cost to print a page (Cost per print (CPP))?

In essence, you take the cost of each toner cartridge, divide it by its yield then add all the components together.

At this stage, the total is likely to be a very small sum of money but you now need to multiply it by the number of pages you print in a month and then by the number of months you intend to keep the machine.

For example:

Let’s say your CPP is 5p per page and you plan to print and/or copy 1,000 pages a month over a period of five years. This means your total CPP will come to £3,000.

Then you need to include the cost of the machine itself and you will get a good idea of the total costs you’re facing.

3. Click Contracts

An alternative approach is to purchase a printer from a supplier with a ‘Click Contract’. In my experience, you will most likely save money since the price per click-click is fixed and you will only pay for what you print.

You won’t have to think about getting the best deals for printer supplies, including toners, inks and parts (such as drums in laser printers) and some contracts also include the service of your machines.

Now add the costs of the ‘Click Contract’ to your TCO calculation.

Running Costs of your printer – some areas to consider

Energy consumption over a period of time

We all try to save energy and be more eco-friendly but do you actually think about the electricity usage for each device that you own? Each printer should come with an industry-standard rating called Energy Star as well as a TEC value.

TEC shows Typical Electricity Consumption over a period of a week. The TEC will already be calculated by each manufacturer, so all you have to do is compare the TEC of one machine against another.

The difference in running costs of a printer with a TEC value of 1.17kWh and a printer of 2.67kWh could be between £30 to £100 per machine per year.

Cost of paper

Another factor you consider is the cost of paper for the type of printer you are looking to buy. Typically, laser devices will operate on low-cost plain paper but ink technologies often require more expensive, specialised paper (especially for high-quality colour printing). Check whether the device offers double-sided printing (for both printing and copying) in order to minimise paper usage costs. Can you set your machine to double-sided printing by default? This could effectively halve the cost of paper use.

Maintenance costs

How long is the warranty that comes as standard? Does the vendor offer on-site, return to base (RTB) or another form of a maintenance contract? Can you extend the warranty and, if so, how much will it cost you? Perhaps you can purchase an annual maintenance contract to reduce the costs. These are all very important questions to ask and may affect the overall TCO calculation.

Do you need help in choosing the right printer? We understand the changing workplace and what you value in a partner today. Our guide is your first step to understanding your future printing needs. Download Your Copy Now.

Beata Ulman

Marketing Development Manager - Ricoh Graphic Communications

Read all articles by Beata Ulman