Articles and Technotes
It's Never Too Late!
Making Preventive Maintenance Work for You
By Jerrit Jones, Board Department Team Leader
Depot International Inc.
Most people in office environments don't really know how a printer works. They just know something magical happens when a blank sheet of paper feeds through a machine and voila', it exits full of print. However, most people care when their printer does not work. In fact, they care a lot. And they usually want it fixed. yesterday.
Enter preventive maintenance--the only way to ensure that a printer will reach its greatest potential. Preventive maintenance sounds good on paper, but many people have a difficult time putting it into action. After all, how many car engines could have been saved if the oil check occurred just a few thousand miles sooner? You get the idea. Nearly anything that's alive, or supposed to work efficiently, requires preventive maintenance. Printers are certainly no exception. Taking 10 or 15 minutes every few days to perform proper maintenance on a printer or one to two hours every month will extend the printer's life, not to mention make end users feel more secure about their imaging machines.
Although the manufacturer provides all the necessary information in the printer's user manual, end users do not typically understand that it is their responsibility to know this information. If there is a service contract with the printer, the service technician must explain the basics of printer maintenance and correct usage patterns to everyone using the printer. Your argument for preventive maintenance will sound more convincing if you tell end users that paper jams and poor imaging are the most common problems caused by lack of preventive maintenance. Nobody wants a paper jam or marginal quality output!
In general, there are two types of preventative maintenance--proactive and reactive. Although most technicians regularly engage in some form of preventative maintenance, it may not always be the proactive kind. If a technician simply repairs a part every time it breaks, without telling the end user to clean the printer or become more aware of how to combat the problem, then the technician is merely reacting to maintenance problems.
A reactive approach requires an ongoing concern for the printer, even when it appears to be functioning up to standard. Just like cars, there is no set schedule about when you should conduct preventive maintenance. Problems can happen at any time. Dusty work environments, for example, wreck havoc on a laser printer's internal components. We receive lots of dirty printers, resulting from dusty work environments. It may take an hour to clean the interior of the printer. And that's not including the time it will take to put in the new parts, if required, which can be at least another thirty minutes! Therefore, a printer in a warehouse or similar dirty environment requires more maintenance checks than a printer residing in a small, clean office with little document traffic.
In addition, there is a greater need for preventative maintenance awareness with laser printers because they output more pages a minute and have more moving parts than inkjet printers. The periodic maintenance process involves inspecting components such as ozone filters, static eliminator teeth and cleaning the fuser unit.
I've prepared some helpful preventative maintenance techniques that should help you get fewer service calls:
Following these tips will lead to fewer service calls and most likely increase the life span of the printer. Encourage your customers to take preventive maintenance seriously. Explain that it is a win-win for both them and you. They benefit by getting more life expectancy from consumable components such as pickup rollers, toner cartridges, and fuser assemblies. You will enjoy making fewer service calls to one location, giving you more freedom to schedule other service calls and expand your customer base. Not a bad deal for a little extra time each week.