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Copier Basics

The best place to start your copier Resources is to think through what your current day-to-day needs are, then look ahead two to three years. The two most basic considerations are speed (how fast you need the copier to produce each page) and volume (how many copies you will make each month.) One of the biggest mistakes you should avoid is buying a copy machine that can meet your speed and volume needs right now, but will become a burden in the next year or two do to expanding usage or company growth.

The Speed of a Copier

The speed of a machine is one of the main drivers of cost: slow machines are cheap, while truly high-speed machines can break the bank. The industry breaks copiers into six segments based on speed. The table below gives an overview of the segments, rough speed ranges you should expect and then a typical setting for which machines in each segment might be applicable.

Segment Approximate Speed Applicable Use
1 15 pages per minute or less Small or home offices
2 20 PPM Small offices
3 30-50 PPM Small to mid-sized offices, can be networked
4 50-70 PPM Mid-to-large offices, suitable for many users
5 70-90 PPM Very large offices and/or print runs
6 90-100 PPM or more Print/copy shops Commercial-sized

Segment 1 machines will quickly frustrate you with slow copy times unless you operate a very small office or work out of your home. Generally, most companies will be satisfied with copiers from Segments 2, 3 and 4. Segment 3 and 4 copiers tend to have more features and are suited for networked use. Unless you have extremely large copy volumes, a segment 5 or 6 copier is overkill.

Monthly Copy Volume?

Your monthly copy volume is as important a consideration as speed: exceeding the manufacturer's recommendations for how many copies a machine should make a month ┬– often called the "duty cycle" ┬– can lead to breakdowns and potentially void your warranty.

If you already own a copier, estimate your volume by checking the counter on the machine itself, which is usually found under the copier glass. You can also track your paper usage to get a rough estimate.

If you don┬’t have a copier, you may be able to tally up your copy expenses (from outsourcing copy jobs) to see your current copy volume. Or, you may just have to take your best guess based on the number of users that will be relying on the copier and what types of copying requirements your office might produce.

When do create an estimate, a good rule of thumb is to add about a 15% buffer. For example, if you expect your ten users to make 50 copies a week, add a 15% buffer, for an estimate of 2,600 pages per month.

The buffer will help make sure you don┬’t overwork the copier, which will almost guarantee increased downtime and service requirements. In addition to the 15% factor, you should also scale up your paper use estimates by 50% or more if you┬’ll be using your copier as a printer.



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