Buyers Guide to Essential Photocopier Functions
Posted on 23rd October 2021 at 16:43
They may get their name from their photocopying function, but ‘copiers’ also offer the ability to print, scan and more.
Moreover, they achieve these essential functions whilst providing many additional features. The copier is truly worthy of the moniker Multi-function Device (MFD).
Read on to discover the many and varied copier features you should expect to find within a modern office device.
Document Output (Printing)
Management of Print Jobs
A decent office MFD will handle multiple print jobs, storing them ahead of printing them and freeing up resources on print servers, or individual desktop computers. You should consider the hard disk space on a device when assessing the suitability of a printer for your office. If the device doesn’t have a hard disk it’s quite likely to become an IT bottleneck, and probably only suitable for light user by one or two people.
A busy office can’t afford for people to be stood around waiting for copies and print outs to arrive. One of the key differentiators between models in any manufacturers range is page speed. Page speed alone is no longer the most important metric, but it’s still relevant to prevent frustration and wasted time, especially for high volume printing. Clearly it depends how much an office is dependent on print, but we find that a small office tends to benefit from a 25 page per minute machine whereas a busy office often needs 30-40+ ppm
Variable Paper Size
Multifunction printers typically print (and copy) at A3, A4 and A5, and often sizes in between. Obviously an A4 copier cannot use A3 paper. A3 paper size is useful for printing spreadsheets, or multiple pages (i.e. up to 4 A4 sides ) on a single sheet, or when the size of print makes the A4 paper size difficult to read.
High quality printing should go without saying, but output capabilities capabilities can vary between models. Plain black text printing tends to be of a high quality across the board, but if you have specific colour needs you should assess the output from a colour photocopier before making a decision. Some manufacturers compensate for underperforming colour printing by over saturating colours to appeal more to the eye upon first inspection – don’t fall victim to this trick if colour fidelity is important to you!
Many MFDs (multifunction devices, i.e. all in one photocopier printers) also help you change the size of your document. If your poster looks ineffective on an A4 sheet, then the photocopier can make it fit an A3 sheet. On the other hand, you can use a photocopier to reduce your document to the smaller and more perfect fit. This useful feature is the norm with most modern multi-function copiers and proves to be incredibly useful around the office.
Duplex printing enables you to print on both sides of the paper, halving the number of sheets required for the print. Duplex printing can cater for landscape and portrait orientations, making it a useful feature for any type of document.
Automatic Document Feed
When you’re scanning or copying documents, the source material is often more than a single sheet. An automatic document feeder will take a stack of documents, and feed them through the scanning mechanism automatically. The best document feeders will handle paper with print on both sides and have a sizable paper capacity.
For those who need to print multiple documents that need to be handed out or delivered to different people, the collate option on a photocopier will save time and effort. Instead of spending your time separating different documents that have just been printed, a photocopier can print your documents and make it clear where one bundle of printing ends and other begins.
A proper office printer will give you the option for multiple paper trays. Typically an A3 printer will have a minimum of two trays, one for A3 paper, one for A4. However, it can be helpful to have additional trays to automatically feed alternate paper stock (i.e. a better quality paper for presentations, or a pre-printed letterhead. Often printers will have a by-pass tray, used to literally by-pass what’s in the main paper trays for the current print.
Automatic Booklet Printing
The best copiers can help you to make complete booklets. They do this by printing on sheets of A3, adding a fold down the middle and two staples to secure the sheets together. This can save users money on outsourced printing tasks and helps you to produce guides, document packs and marketing materials in-house. Booklet printing is one of those copier features you never knew your printed documents needed until they needed it!
‘Finishers’ to auto staple or hole-punch documents
Photocopiers do not just help you save time by collating documents. They also save time by hole-punching and stapling the documents you print. There are many benefits to this function. If your photocopier staples it for you, then the most obvious benefit is that you save time. Moreover, if the photocopier completes these cumbersome tasks on your behalf, you can guarantee that the hole or staple is in the exact same place for every document.
Scanning to email
Most, if not all modern photocopiers, are able to scan documents. Scanning documents is at the core of many offices workflows and digital transformation strategies. It pays to consider the scanning capabilities of an MFD in their own right. How much will you need to scan, do you want to scan batches of documents automatically, do you want to scan both sides of the paper, do you want to convert text to be searchable, etc. Usually, an MFD will have an address book of email destinations stored within its memory. Higher spec machines provide many other scan destinations.
Scanning to Dropbox, Sharepoint or Network Folders
Building on scanning documents to email addresses, many of the best photocopiers will also allow you to scan documents to a shared space such as Dropbox, Sharepoint or traditional network folders. This is a convenient option for businesses with large teams who need to feed documents to a central storage area. This type of scanning combined with OCR is at the heart of document management solutions.
Optical Character Recognition
Optical Character Recognition, OCR, is a capability that helps convert the text in scanned documents to a format readable (and searchable) by your computers. The scanner will read documents as you scan them and embed searchable text in to a PDF file. Once a document has been OCR’d you can begin to automate what happens next. OCR is an important part of the digital transformation journey.
At the machine
Pull print ensures documents are only outputted when the right user comes to the machine. Secure and saves paper and toner.
USB Printing & memory card printing
Many photocopiers are manufactured with USB ports and memory card slots. Incorporating these ports onto a photocopier makes it easy to print documents swiftly and without the need to use a computer. Simply insert your USB stick/drive, choose your document and hit print. This can be handy for your own staff, but proves invaluable when you’ve got a customer or supplier on-site who needs to print a document but can’t connect to your network to print.
Another way you can save paper – and therefore money – with a good photocopier is in with ‘pull-printing’ functionality. Pull printing to prevents a stack of uncollected print outs from building up.
With pull printing, people send printing jobs to the photocopier, but the document is only released when the person arrives at the photocopier and confirms the printing job. If they do not show up, the documents are not printed and then ink and paper are not wasted.
Another huge benefit of pull printing is improved data security – if you’ve ever raced down the office to get to the printer before your sensitive document gets collected by the wrong person, you’ll know what we mean. Pull print helps to ensure that documents are only seen by the person who sent the print job.
As a print output device and scanner, it makes sense to get rid of any stand-alone fax machines and combine them into the main office printer. Many MFDs provide a fax option, sometimes this is a card, sometimes a software license. For businesses still using FAX, a single copy/scan/fax solution makes a lot of sense.
Any networked device needs to fit in with the overall IT security systems in play. Office copiers are no exception and typically include various security features ranging from document / hard disk encryption through to active threat detection, onboard anti-virus, self-healing capabilities, firewall capabilities and suites of authentication technologies – all designed to work in concert with the office’s main security solution.
Hopefully, these copier features highlight how just how multifunctional these multifunctional devices are! If you want to get the most out of your office technology then we’d love to speak to you about your needs.
Would you like to have a conversation to find out how a KRL copier will help your business? Give us a call on 01482 657007, or get in touch.
Tagged as: Photocopiers & MFDs
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