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The printer can be a field worker's best friend

Supplier: insignia By: Song Thiam Ow, Senior Product Marketing - Intermec Printers, Asia Pacific
12 February, 2013

What should you consider when choosing a mobile printer?

Mobile printers are a tool which, when deployed correctly, can vastly improve productivity, giving users the ability to produce labels and  receipts when and where they're needed. The trouble for Australian businesses is that the potential productivity gains aren't easily compared between different mobile printers on the market.

But even the same mobile printer used in a slightly different environment or in conjunction with different equipment can present vastly different levels of productivity gains.

Evaluate the environment in which the field user operates

Ruggedness is an extremely important quality, even for mobile computers used in retail or carpeted environments, because drops, spills and rough handling are routine, and failing to safeguard against these threats will result in lost productivity, the inability to complete necessary tasks and reduced service levels.

Measure throughput, not speed

Inches per second (IPS) is the most widely used measure of print speed, but not necessarily the most important. The true indicator of a printer's productivity power is its throughput, which includes the total time it takes a printer to complete a print job after receiving the print command. Before printing even begins, the printer may need to extract information from on-board memory or a mobile computer, generate graphics and format bar codes. The time required for these functions is reflected in throughput, but not in inches per second.

Throughput directly impacts the amount of time users spend waiting for the printer to output the needed labels or receipts.

Since mobile printing is "on demand," the throughput to print the first label or receipt is critical.

A printer and computer should be a perfect match

Most mobile printers have a basic level of compatibility with dozens of mobile computers. However, many users are surprised to learn that printer performance can vary significantly depending on the computer it is paired with. The printer / computer combination is an important variable for productivity and should be evaluated during the selection process.

Compatibility between computer and printer goes beyond whether each device supports the businesses desired interface. Bluetooth, USB and other interfaces provide basic connectivity between the mobile printer and computer, but do not optimise operations.

Before choosing a mobile printer for their business, organisations should test their own label and receipt formats to determine which printer / computer combination is fastest and most responsive for operations. As these wireless printers should support the same standards and configurations as the computers and networks they will interact with.

Consider operating expenses as a part of the total cost of ownership

The purchase price of a printer and the cost of its supplies are only a small measure of its true cost.

Performance issues that limit productivity drive up the cost of mobile printers, so reliability and expected maintenance costs should also be considered. Rugged mobile printers often have a higher list price than common commercial models, but have longer life cycles and are more resistant to damage, which results in lower repair costs and work interruptions. Those that perform reliably and minimize the time users and their customer spend waiting for labels and receipts will provide superior value.

Choose the right printer for the right job

Businesses must consider a deployment of new mobile technology into their operations in relation to what systems and equipment the mobile printers will be used in conjunction with; and what operating environments the printer will be subjected to.

Through considering all business requirements and understanding the new mobile printing technology on the market today, professionals will be able to make an informed choice and ensure that their new technology is a productivity booster from day one.