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ECi announces new MPS partnership

December 19, 2014

ecilogoThe software provider’s FMAudit software will be integrated with Datamax-O’Neil devices.

The announcement noted that the two companies will work together to integrate the FMAudit MPS software with Datamax-O’Neil’s PCL5 and PCL6 receipt and label printers in an effort to “ensure cost control and reduce downtime and waste”. The FMAudit software will collect data from the printers in order to allow companies to “centrally manage and monitor all printer activities within one network”.

The software will also help to “simplify administration, maintenance and supply fulfilment” by automatically emailing a user when cartridges are low on toner “with a link to the corresponding toner shop”, with “a significant number of large and medium-sized companies worldwide” already using the FMAudit software for their printer fleets.

ECI’s partnership with Datamax-O’Neil will also help the latter company “offer a different financing model to their end-users”, with the company offering Hardware as a Service (Haas) meaning that customers “will be able to finance the use of the printer and relevant consumables on a per-label basis”, for more “cost control and control of their label-printing function”.

Christian Bischoff, Regional General Manager for the EMEA at Datamax-O’Neil, commented: “Working together with renowned companies like ECi helps us in driving forward innovation. With the launch of the new Datamax-O’Neil H-8308p thermal printer, we introduced the ability to capture valuable data from devices via the FMAudit Managed Print Service software. This makes us one of the first companies in our segment that uses this system for its printers. The FMAudit software enables users to further increase productivity while maintaining total cost control.”

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Alibaba works to remove counterfeit electronics

December 18, 2014

AlibabaThe Chinese e-commerce company “has made great strides” in removing counterfeit electronics from its sites, but companies want it to do more.

The Street reported on how the company has regularly seen “too many counterfeit electronics” and other products on its websites, with “great strides” made towards “eliminating such items” over the past year, “especially in recent months after its IPO in the US”, but added that “not everyone is happy” with the company’s efforts.

Robert Christie, an Alibaba spokesman, stated that the company has been “pretty aggressive” about removing counterfeits from its sites, noting that “as soon as the company identifies such products, it takes them down quickly”, but many companies who’ve been affected by counterfeit versions of their products being traded on the sites note that “Alibaba still has a long way to go”, with processes to remove counterfeits “somewhat time-consuming and burdensome” for OEMs.

David Tognotti, General Counsel, General Manager and Vice President of Operations at electronics manufacturer Monster, noted that the problem “has improved significantly in recent months […] I do not find very much counterfeit Monster product anymore […] it’s as if Alibaba has turned the spigot off”, but also added that there is “always stuff that’s going to sneak through because the counterfeiters and the people who post [listings] are really good at trying to beat the system”.

Additionally, brand owners and OEMs “still largely do the policing of the sites on their own and point out counterfeit items to Alibaba, with the company needing to “provide a mechanism” that is both “simple-to-use and fast” to remove such products, and those looking to list products “should be required to provide some sort of a license deal or other proof that they’re authorised to sell those items”.

Finally, Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst at Enderle Group, noted that counterfeits may “become a regulatory issue” for Alibaba in the USA, as it could “tarnish trust” in the company as it expands beyond China, with a strong US presence needed to “assure acceptance” of its products. The US is “far more strict” on counterfeiting than China, he added, and that “showcases a clear pivot to acvoid regulatory problems in the USA”.

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ECi introduces automatic supply reordering

December 15, 2014

mpsofficeMPS solution provider announces integration of FMAudit software with e-automate ERP software, allowing automatic reordering of toner.

The US-based MPS solutions provider has announced an “exciting new advancement” for the integration of its FMAudit print services management software with e-automate ERP software, which will provide users with automated supply reordering for their imaging devices; saving imaging dealers time that would otherwise be spent undergoing the multi-step process of reordering toner themselves.

The software will allow dealers to automatically receive detailed toner supply quotes directly into their business system whenever a customer’s imaging device is running low on toner, with FMAudit able to remotely monitor the ongoing status of imaging devices across a variety of brands, locations, and networking environments. It is then able to analyse the data collected from each device to “proactively determine” the amount of toner left and estimate from this how soon each toner cartridge will become completely empty based on historical usage patterns for the imaging device.

Once it has been determined by FMAudit that new toner is needed for a device, it passes synchronised details to e-automate, with the reorder alert automatically generating an e-automate supply quote that associates the correct toner cartridge, serialised imaging device, device location, and customer contact information needed to complete the resupply process; although ECi noted that final approval from an authorised dealer is required to push the supply quote through e-automate’s order process.

The company added that all of this is achieved through Web Services built on its proprietary ESN (Equipment Supply Network) data exchange platform; with ESN’s application programming interface (API) connection for the automatic supply quote integration now fully integrated with FMAudit Central v3.6 and v4.0 “in concert with e-automate’s 8.5”.

Greg Allen, Vice President of Operations at ECi’s FMAudit, said: “The ability to offer our customers this integration with e-automate is very exciting. Increasing productivity is what dealers are looking for and this integration is exactly what is needed when offering automated supply ordering: the capability to place a quote in a dealer’s business management system without the staff having to manage alerts.  This takes a time-intensive step out of the ordering process and limits the risk associated with managing supply programs.”

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Sharp launches two mono MFPs in USA

December 10, 2014

Sharp's MX-M754N

Sharp’s MX-M754N

The MFPs are high-speed monochrome devices for the American markets.

Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) announced the release of the MX-M654N and MX-M754N MFPs, which it notes are “workgroup document systems [that] deliver high productivity and strong versatility, along with powerful multitasking workflow features and exceptional image quality”.

The two printers feature speeds of 65ppm (MX-M654N) and 75ppm (MX-M754N) alongside the OEM’s “latest technology”, with 10-inch “diagonal tablet-style” touchscreens, wireless networking and mobile printing through the OEM’s Sharpdesk Mobile app, free to download for mobile phones and tablets. Sharp’s OSA technology is also included, which “provides expanded integration with network applications and cloud services”.

Other features include Cloud Portal Office, which is a “content management software service […] for storing and sharing scanned documents and other electronic files”, and both machines offer a “full complement” of finishing options such as sorting, stapling, folding and booklet-making. Security features consist of 256-bit data encryption, overwrite protection and an end-of-lease feature that “erases all data, address books and personal information” when the devices are traded back. Both printers are available now “via authorised Sharp dealers and direct sales”.

Mike Marusic, Senior Vice President of SIICA’s Marketing and Business Solutions Group, commented: “The MX-M654N and MX-M754N high-speed monochrome MFPs have been designed for large, busy workgroups, offering high productivity, powerful workflow capability, off-premises cloud support and more. These new models enable large workgroups to manage demanding workflows with greater efficiency and produce more professional looking documents in-house.”

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HP to launch “revolutionary” computer and OS

December 9, 2014

The new systems are part of the OEM’s plan to “reinvent computing” next year.pc

Technology Review reported on details from HP about a new operating system and computer it is working on for release in the next two years, which it describes as “revolutionary” and part of an “ambitious plan to reinvent computing”. The prototype system, the site adds, will form a “big step toward shaking up” HP’s business, as well as the “entire computing industry”.

The system is operating on a computer called ‘The Machine’ at HP’s research division, with the computer said to be the first of a “new dynasty of computers” that are “much more energy-efficient and powerful than current products”, with a new type of memory used instead of the types used in computers now, which “originated in the 1940s” and require the “need to shuttle data back and forth” between both types.

Three-quarters of HP’s 200 staff working in the research department at HP Labs are focused on the new operating system and machine, with CEO Meg Whitman said to have “expanded HP’s research spending in the support of the project”, according to Chief Architect Kirk Bresniker. He added that the reason HP is focusing on this is that “a model from the beginning of computing has been reflected in everything since, and it is holding us back”.

‘The Machine’ is “designed to compete” with servers, with Bresniker noting that elements of its design “could one day be adapted for smaller devices”, though HP needs to “make significant progress” in software and hardware to make it a “reality”, with the new form of memory – memristor memory – needing to be perfected first.

The memristor, an electronic component, would handle both “temporary and long-term data storage”, where as current computers use hard and flash memory for operation, and avoiding this need to “move data back and forth should deliver major power and time savings”, with data also able to be retained when the memristor memory is “powered off”, alongside other advantages including faster speeds and more storage space.

A working prototype of ‘The Machine’ is planned for 2016, with the operating system – called Linux++ – set to be launched in June 2015, allowing programmers to “test their code” against it, with a full version codenamed ‘Carbon’ to operate on the finished version of ‘The Machine’. The computer also uses optical fibre instead of copper wires for data flow, but scepticism remains due to HP having “fallen behind its own timetable” for producing the memristor memory.

HP sold off its last attempt at an operating system – WebOS – in November 2011, though printers were said to still be using it during the sale process, and 275 jobs focusing on WebOS were cut in February 2012.

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Indian experts study online counterfeiting

December 4, 2014

Counterfeiting officers told Indian industry about how online markets are the “source of counterfeit products”.pc

Business Standard reported on the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and its aim to seek “scrutiny” of online products and whether they are genuine, with the Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying Economy (CASCADE) – part of the FICCI – noting that online markets “are [the] source of counterfeit products” in many cases.

Noting that the genuine nature of products “has to be verified” if an online site wishes to sell them, Deep Chand, Advisor for CASCADE, told Indian media at a seminar entitled Curbing Counterfeiting and Smuggling – An Imperative for Indian Economy that online markets are the “source” of “distributing, smuggling and counterfeiting products”, adding that many suppliers “cannot deny that they do not have counterfeit products”.

Chand added that he stressed “enforcement of the regulations formulated to check counterfeiting and smuggling”, and that the enforcement of these is “not to the extent [that] it should be”, with the government in India needing to “set its priority so that the people […] counterfeiting […] are taken care of” by the authorities.

A FiCCI study of seven key Indian industry sectors, Socio-economic Impact of Counterfeiting, Smuggling and Tax Evasion, found that the estimated annual tax loss to the Indian government in 2012 to counterfeiting was Rs 26,190 crore ($4.2 billion/€3.4 billion), and estimated an annual sales loss to industry of around Rs one lakh crore ($16.1 billion/€13 billion) in future. The sectors included car components, alcohol, computer hardware, personal and packaged goods, mobile phones and tobacco, with packaged and personal goods seeing the most losses with 49.3 percent.

The Recycler reported in April that the global impact on printing from counterfeiting is now around $3 billion (€2.4 billion).

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Nearly 300 counterfeit websites seized

December 2, 2014

European and US officials seized 292 sites.

Europol's headquarters in The Hague, Belgium

Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Belgium

Computer Business Review reported on EU police agency Europol’s seizure of 292 web domains that were “associated with the sale of fake goods” in 19 European nations as well as the USA, and while “no arrests were said to have taken place” yet, a source told the BBC that “possible arrests could be made soon”.

The raids on the website domains were “prompted” by OEMs and trademark holders, and the sites concerned were selling counterfeit “sportswear, electronics and pharmaceuticals” as well as “pirated movies and music”, and form part of Project IOS, which began in November 2012 and aims to “undermine the sale of fake goods”, with 1,829 domains seized in five raids so far.

Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, stated: “The infringement of intellectual property rights is a growing problem in our economies and for millions of producers and consumers. Europol is committed to working with its international partners to crack down on the criminal networks responsible for this illegal activity.”

Bruce Foucart, Acting Director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre, added: “Working with our international partners on operations like this shows the true global impact of IP crime. Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites.”

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Ricoh to launch new A4 printers in UK

December 1, 2014

The new range of monochrome laser printers will be released in January.

Ricoh's SP 4510DN

Ricoh’s SP 4510DN

The OEM announced that the monochrome A4 single and multi-functional devices are designed to “help small and medium-sized offices save money and space”, with the five printers in the range set to be launched in the UK market in January 2015 featuring “attractive initial purchase price[s] and low total cost of ownership”.

The five printers include the SP 4510DN, SP 4510SF, SP 3600DN, SP 3600SF and SP 3610SF, and feature designs that aim to “meet customer requirements for high performance and fit-for-purpose functionality”, including a small size so as not to take up “valuable space”. The SP 4510SF features a 4.3-inch touch panel, whilst the other four printers include a four-line LCD display.

All five printers feature Ricoh’s latest controller and LED technology, with print resolutions of 1,200 dpi, increased paper handling capacity, USB and SD card printing (for the SP 4510SF only) as well as faxing capability for the three MFPs in the range – the SP 4510SF, SP 3600SF and SP 3610SF. First print for all the machines is 6.5 seconds, with print speeds of 40ppm and high duty cycles featuring alongside WiFi connectivity (except for the SP 3600DN) and a “toner save” feature.

The printers are also compatible with Ricoh’s@Remote performance monitoring software, and are built from recycled and bio-plastic components, while sleep mode and ECO mode options allow for energy-saving prints.

Karen Lawrence, Head of Product Marketing at Ricoh, commented: “The new models are ideal for cost-conscious offices as they are offered at an affordable purchase price and come equipped with Ricoh’s new Quick Start Up (QSU) fusing system, which reduces Total Electricity Consumption (TEC) values.

“In addition, the on/off timer cuts energy consumption and costs, and the SP 4510DN and SP 4510SF come with the high-performance Ricoh GWNX controller, which leads to further cost/time savings, increased operational efficiency, and ultimately reduced total cost of ownership.”

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ECi reveals 2015 conference plans

December 1, 2014

The software provider will host its 2015 Connect Conference in Florida next November.ecilogo

The company’s Connect Conference, which was held from 10 to 12 November in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, allowed companies from across the world served by ECi and its software programmes to come together to “educate, collaborate and inspire”, with next year’s event already planned in for 9 to 11 November 2015 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida.

This year’s event saw talks about “the importance of SMBs to the economy”, the “growing importance of millennials in the marketplace”, and a host of other important discussions. President and CEO Ron Books and COO Trevor Gruenewald were among the speakers, whilst entertainment was provided by The Passing Zone and Shane Elvis, a juggling duo and Elvis impersonator respectively.

Book stated: “Everyone enjoys this event—our customers, vendors and employees. It’s exciting to see small and medium size businesses that are growing and making an investment in learning new things. Connect reminds us here at ECi that our goal is more than providing software and technology but rather to support the entrepreneurial spirit and profitable growth of independent businesses. It’s wonderful to see our mission in action at an event like Connect. Connect 2015 will just be an extension of that goal!”

Adriane McKenny, from ECi customer Kyle Office Solutions, added: “One of the best things about this conference was meeting some of the many people who I’ve only emailed or spoken to over the phone. I am awed by the multiple hats that employees of small and medium sized businesses wear! I am definitely inspired to take back all the knowledge that I’ve received to share with my co-workers and have some exciting new ideas for Kyle Office Solutions.”

Traci Johnson, ECi’s Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Marketing, commented: “Connect is a unique event exclusive to our customers. Our customers represent small and medium size businesses who share common challenges in today’s changing markets. Not only do they get to network with others in their industry, but they also get to meet folks from other industries, providing a unique chance to learn from many sources and gain new prospects and ultimately new customers.

“As Adriane said, it’s the connections made that are so important. Connect 2015 will provide our customers with another opportunity to make valuable connections and learn about new technology specific to their businesses. Moving to a Disney Resort will only serve to enhance the experience.”

The company was recently awarded an MPS technology patent (http://www.therecycler.com/posts/eci-awarded-mps-technology-patent/), and integrated some of its software with another company, Digital Gateway, in September (http://www.therecycler.com/posts/eci-integrates-software-with-new-company/).

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3D printer prints first object in space

November 27, 2014

The 3D printer on the ISS. Credit: nasa.gov

The 3D printer being tested in microgravity conditions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Credit: nasa.gov

NASA and Made In Space achieve first 3D printed object to be produced in space on-board International Space Station (ISS).

Dezeen.com reported that the first 3D printed object has been produced on-board the ISS, with NASA stating that the achievement is “paving the way to future long-term space expeditions”.

Following NASA’s decision to fund California-based business Made In Space to develop 3D printing technology for use in space, the printer was installed on the ISS by astronaut Barry Wilmore on 17 November and began printing the object – a faceplate for the printer’s own casing – on 24 November; following commands sent from NASA ground controllers. The achievement demonstrates that 3D printers are able to produce their own replacement parts whilst in space.

Niki Werkheiser, Project Manager for the ISS 3D Printer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, commented: “This first print is the initial step toward providing an on-demand machine shop capability away from Earth […] the space station is the only laboratory where we can fully test this technology in space.

“If a printer is critical for explorers, it must be capable of replicating its own parts, so that it can keep working during longer journeys to places like Mars or an asteroid […] ultimately, one day, a printer may even be able to print another printer.”

Upon inspection of the printed part it was found that it “had partially stuck to its tray”, which the NASA team suggests means that “the bonding of the layers of plastic might be different in microgravity”; with the printer working by “extruding plastic filament that has been heated at a low temperature to melt it” and then printing the plastic in layers.

As a result, the team installed a new printer tray and sent new printing instructions to the machine; and it is planned that the first objects printed in space will be sent down to Earth “to be compared to control samples” on order to “see if there are any differences between the printing quality” in microgravity and ground conditions.

Werkheiser said: “This is the first time we’ve ever used a 3D printer in space, and we are learning, even from these initial operations […] as we print more parts we’ll be able to learn whether some of the effects we are seeing are caused by microgravity or just part of the normal fine-tuning process for printing. When we get the parts back on Earth, we’ll be able to do a more detailed analysis to find out how they compare to parts printed on Earth.”

Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made In Space, said: “The operation of the 3D printer is a transformative moment in space development […] we’ve built a machine that will provide us with research data needed to develop future 3D printers for the ISS and beyond, revolutionising space manufacturing. This may change how we approach getting replacement tools and parts to the space station crew, allowing them to be less reliant on supply missions from Earth.”

You can read more about 3D printing in space in Issue 263’s wide-format column on page 54.

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