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JiT and ATF: Chimera, Goalor Reality?

Posted Date 12/07/15

Nubeprint has read recently about just in time (JiT) and auto toner fulfillment (ATF) in some articles. While one talked about the impossibility to have ATF technology in the MPS business, other announced the initiative of a technology vendor to adapt its technology to JiT. They look contradictory. But it what is especially surprising is that both articles are signed by well-known MPS vendors.  So we want to contribute on clearing down any confusion that these communications may have caused in the industry by clarifying some aspects about Jit and ATF.

First thing to understand is that ATF is only possible if JiT is in place. And JiT is meaningless if ATF is not following. Let us explain: JiT is as simple as being able to predict when a cartridge will be empty based on the consumption patterns of a specific printer. ATF uses this prediction to trigger the order of the right cartridge so that it gets to the right printer or copier right on time before the printer stops. In our opinion, talking about JiT and ATF as two separate things is meaningless. They are both part of the same unique thing that we will call AF (auto fulfillment). We don’t like too much the usage of ATF because it is pretty restrictive as it talks about “toner”, while we all know there are many other things than just toner in a printer or copier, such as drums, waste bottle, transfer.

The second aspect to keep in mind is that AF does not differentiate the devices. A dealer can’t tell his customer “listen, I will do AF for printer model A, but for the other 13 models you have, either you keep calling for ordering, or we replace the devices no matter if they are brand new MFPs”. The service must then apply to any printer the end-customer has.

The third aspect is that once you decide to automate the delivery of cartridges, you lose any control over duplicate deliveries. Bear in mind that 75% of the cost per page is the cost of supplies. So, should you ship a cartridge in excess, the chances that you recuperate its costs are few, and in most cases you’ll end up by losing money in this printer. So you must only automate if you are fully confident that the AF system is preventing you to ship any cartridge in excess. But this is not enough: you certainly must control what your profits per printer are. And we are not referring to the pricing you did when you built the proposal. We refer to how good your AF is executing: what cartridges have been shipped? When were they installed? How much toner was wasted in each installation? These are questions that must necessarily be part of your AF strategy.

 Knowing about these 3 aspects help us to understand that having AF in the MPS industry is certainly not an easy task. Take a look at your own MPS system and verify if it does comply will all above aspects. If the answer is no, don’t think you’ll get something different in the next release. If you do, you are losing your time… and plenty of money. Getting to do AF requires an accuracy that none of the MPS software that were designed for just monitoring will ever reach. For these MPS vendors, JiT, ATF or whatever they call it is both a goal and a chimera.

But AF is a reality in the industry. It’s been there for over 5 years and fuels the MPS programs of the most profitable MPS providers worldwide. If you are serious in MPS, do not fear to shift from your unprofitable MPS software to an income generator SW with auto-fulfillment that just works.

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