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Inkjet flies as cost per copy dies

March 26, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, teleworking is growing on the back of the “stay at home” message and inkjet benefits at the expense of corporate cost per copy plans and the industry is responding to the challenges.

“We sold 150 inkjet printers last week, it was all our stock,” one Dutch retailer told The Recycler. A similar story being heard in more countries as homeworking takes off on the back of the “stay at home” message most governments are now mandating.

It is a similar story with inkjet consumables that are flying off the shelf to meet the needs of teleworkers and home schoolers.  One UK parent reported printing 30 pages a day in the last few days as he printed out assignments and background material. It is the busiest the printer has been in a year. It is a picture being repeated across all the countries affected by the pandemic.

Taking to social media, German remanufacturer wta Carsten Weser’s Collection Programme Manager, Dimitry van Raamsdonk is looking for empty printhead cores to meet demand and is requesting companies with good quantities available to contact him.

While home printing booms, in the corporate and education sectors, the home of the cost per copy model, click rates are down as much as 90% in some sectors. One UK company we spoke with that supports 15 school MPS programmes has seen the click rate fall to just about zero as schools close. The knock-on effect is that several mid to large size European remanufactures are now beginning to implement short-time working.

As the saying goes “Cash is king” and payments are slowing down. The Recycler payment index tracks payment habits and in December the average payment time across the sector in Europe was 48 days several companies but had gone to 63 days by the end of February.

Some companies are now reporting that credit facilities are being withdrawn and pre-payment required for purchases of materials like toner, ink, chips etc.. As one supplier told The Recycler “it’s a perfect storm, the economy is reducing rapidly, customers are sitting on cash by not paying bills, our suppliers now want prepayment which can tie up funds for up to 240 days if we buy a container of product from Asia and triple our cash requirements.”

Our readers are telling us it is a similar picture being repeated across the sectors in countries affected by the pandemic.

Empties become an issue as logistics companies focus of delivering priority supplies, the collection of empties for reuse and remanufacturing is expected to become for challenging in the coming weeks a leading remanufacturer told The Recycler yesterday.

On social media, the United Arab Emirates company, German Imaging Technologies (GIT) held a town hall meeting with the UAE team at the factory grounds addressing the strategy and challenges of the current health, social and economic crisis due to COVID-19 virus and the restrictions imposed on the society at large.

GIT team is fully at work. With multiple government entities and over a dozen hospitals, pharma companies, medical laboratories and the National Ambulance service as our clients, we are fully involved in supporting those who are fighting every day to make our country safe again.

Management is doing everything in its power to ensure continuity for all team members despite of repercussions. “We are committed to retain 100% of our team throughout the crisis. GIT plays also a vital role in supporting multiple Government entities and over a dozen hospitals, care providers, medical laboratories and the National Ambulance service during this crisis. Together we will manage and prevail,” the company said.

French cartridge collector LVL took to social media and advised they are “Not currently in a position to carry out empty cartridge removal, our cartridge collection activity is temporarily suspended.” They reminded their collection network “to keep your boxes full” and “as soon as we resume the activity, we will do our best to carry out the collections ASAP.”

On 5 March Lexmark issued a firmware update that was closely followed by HP who issued a firmware update on the 17 March. Both updates effectively locked out aftermarket consumables when they became empty.

Fortunately for consumers with aftermarket supplies affected by the update’s, aftermarket solutions were available within a matter of days from leading providers.

Editor’s Opinion: The pandemic has certainly had an impact on the imaging market. Opportunities in home printing and a contraction in some corporate sectors. But you have to ask the question why did two leading OEMs issue the firmware update during a pandemic. Were they technically necessary, or was it just an opportunist update to lock out the aftermarket and exploit consumers?  I hope it is one, bust suspect the other.

Editor’s Note: We appreciate all the feedback we are receiving and have anonymised contributions where requested so we can share the “big picture” with our audience. Please keep us updated.

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