For many organizations, when it’s time to cut costs, they look at the office supply closet. One option that is explored is purchasing remanufactured or “off-brand” cartridges for printers. While remanufactured supplies may be priced at 20-70 percent below the cost of the printer manufacturer’s supplies, these cartridges may be inconsistent and yield poor quality, ultimately leading to increased costs due to clogs and failing cartridges, printer malfunctions, and the need for multiple reprints.
In many cases, third party cartridges are remanufactured or refilled by hand, exposing your business to the risk of leaks and internal printer damage. The hidden costs of remanufactured toner can really add up, and the upfront savings you realize today could end up costing you in the long run.
Gartner recently refreshed their report, “Saving Money on Remanufactured Printer Supplies Is Harder Than It Sounds” As part of the report’s key findings, Gartner recommends that IT managers and purchasing specialists evaluate their strategy when considering remanufactured printing supplies.
- Very few buyers of remanufactured supplies test their supplies' yields, cartridge failures, or image quality rigorously enough to really know whether they're getting a good deal.
- Done wrong, remanufacturing can undermine cartridge recycling programs or leave behind e-waste.
- Most remanufactured supplies lack the kinds of certifications that would satisfy all concerns about yield, failure rates, image quality and environmental practices.
As a point of comparison, original equipment manufacturers like HP do rigorous testing on supplies to ensure that cartridges perform the way customers expect. For example, at HP, we test cartridges to ensure they perform reliably, right out of the box. Additionally, HP designs cartridges to be recycled – and to be made from recycled plastic – for reduced environmental impact. Many times, cartridges that are returned to remanufacturers are unable to be reused and automatically get put into landfills.
With so much variation in vendors outside of OEMs, Gartner recommends:
- Stick with your original suppliers, unless you've seen independent laboratory validation of the yields, failure rates and image quality of the remanufactured supplies you are considering. Ensure that unusable and worn parts are properly disposed of.
- Remember that supplies are only one of your printing costs, and aggressively manage your office printing practices to cut all of your hard costs by 10% to 30%. Don't sell your opportunity short.
Gartner research consistently shows that organizations that actively manage their printer, copier, multifunction product (MFP) and fax fleets can save between ten percent and thirty percent of their print costs.1 While this sounds desirable, many organizations have little time to maintain their fleet and supplies.
As part of their evaluation strategy, organizations should bring their fleet of printers under control by assessing their inventory, optimizing it and then look at the source of their supplies. Another means to effectively manage long-term office printing operations is for organizations to consider Managed Print Services (MPS). HP MPS has proven to be a cost-effective way to have original fresh toner and ink readily available at a reduced cost which optimizes the MFPs. This in turn allows businesses to focus on other strategic-business priorities.
Gartner, Inc., “Saving Money on Remanufactured Printer Supplies Is Harder Than It Sounds,” Ken Weilerstein, Vishai Tripathi, 21 March, 2012.
1 Gartner, “Cost-Cutting Initiatives For Office Printing,” Sharon McNee, Ken Weilerstein, Tomoko Mitani, June 19, 2012