Barcode printers are essential to the labeling process, as well as to running an efficient warehouse/distribution center. Even the toughest industrial barcode printers don’t last forever, though. Eventually, parts start to wear out and performance declines. In some cases, printer models are discontinued, making it difficult to continue supporting them or replacing parts.
Outdated printers can cause a number of problems that disrupt workflows. Is it time to upgrade your barcode printers? Consider these four signs.
Frequent Maintenance: Are your printers causing more and more downtime? Printers that frequently require maintenance become more of a burden than an asset. When a line has to be shut down to fix a printer, that downtime is not only disruptive, but very costly.
An upgraded model will greatly reduce those unplanned maintenance issues. Couple that with a robust barcode printer repair and service plan, and and you can keep your printers humming with minimal disruption to your operations.
Printhead Problems: Proper printhead operation is critical for your barcode labels. If the printhead is damaged, it can cause additional downtime and lead to out-of-spec labels.
Printhead replacement can be quite expensive. If you find that you’re having printhead issues, do the math to determine if it would be a better investment to just purchase a new printer rather than replace the printhead.
Whether you have a new or existing printer, failing to properly care for the printheads can cause build-up that leads to premature failure. This can also shorten the lifespan of the printer. Keep the printheads clean and well maintained, and consider enrolling in Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program, which guarantees free printhead replacement as long as you use genuine Zebra supplies.
Evolving Workloads and Applications: When you first bought your existing barcode printers, they were likely selected because they ideally fit your business needs at the time. If those needs have shifted – your business has increased, or your product mix has changed, or there are new regulatory requirements, for example – your printer requirements have probably shifted with them.
Connectivity options may have changed as well, and your wireless LAN or server hardware may have outpaced your printers in transitioning to new standards or technology.
Instead of continuing to use printers that aren’t ideal for the application, there are significant benefits to upgrading to a better fit. A mismatch between the printer and the application can lead to slower printer response times, wasted consumables, or more wear and tear on the hardware. Look for new printers that are tailored to your current needs, and that can grow and change with your business over time.
Increasing Performance Expectations: Warehouse efficiency/optimization is a journey, not a destination, and it’s a process that is never truly complete. Improvements can always be made, and the same is true when it comes to label printers.
In addition, your customers may expect larger volumes of labels at a faster rate, or with greater print quality, different types of barcodes, or specific color requirements. An older printer may not be able to meet those specifications.
Don’t let aging printer hardware turn into an efficiency bottleneck. Even if you think your printers can last for another year, consider the efficiency boosts new technology can bring.
It can be difficult to transition from familiar printers to new models, but there are plenty of benefits to doing so. For example, this year Zebra is phasing out its popular Xi Series printers and 105SL Plus model in favor of the new ZT600 Series – which includes the ZT610 and ZT620 – and ZT510, respectively. These new printers offer a new set of features and advantages, so end users won’t just be upgrading to ensure continued performance and support – they’ll be able to enable new productivity and efficiency benefits.
While hardware upgrades can be disruptive, the short-term costs are a fraction of the long-term benefits you’ll gain through improved uptime, greater productivity, and more reliable labeling quality.