Print.IT - issue 47 - page 23

appeal is
as much
about the
of low
as it is about
running costs
You showed a number of
new business inkjet products at
the IFA 2017 exhibition in Berlin,
including a new generation of
EcoTank printers. How do they
differ from previous models?
The main differences are,
firstly, that the ink tanks are now
on the front, so you can see the ink
level from the front of the printer
– a little bit more convenient than
having them on the side – and,
secondly, they are easier to refill.
Before, replacement ink came in
bottles with a pointed nozzle: you
had to remove the seal, put on the
pointed nozzle and then squeeze
the bottle to get the ink into the
tank. If I’m honest, it’s a little
messy. With our new printers, there
is a keying system, so you definitely
can’t put the wrong colour into the
wrong tank, and a valve mechanism,
which opens automatically. The ink
automatically flows into the tank,
so you don’t need to squeeze the
bottle, and when the tank is full it
stops, which makes refilling a lot
easier. We always listen to feedback
from customers and, out of all the
feedback we got, refilling was the
one thing people really wanted us
to change.
How has EcoTank been
received in the UK and what sort
of people are choosing it over the
traditional razor/razor blade model?
When we launched the product,
our expectation was that this would
be purchased by high print volume
customers, because turning the
business model on its head means
that initially you do pay more for the
hardware, which you then recoup
because the cost per page is so
much lower. But, in reality, we’re
seeing a broad spectrum of user,
because EcoTank’s appeal is as
much about the convenience of low
intervention as it is about running
costs. You still get more customers
at the higher end, but take-up is
across the market.
We do a similar concept for
the business marketplace that
we call RIPs. These devices have
replaceable ink packs with enough
ink for up to 86,000 pages in each
bag, so for a year or so the
only thing the customer has
to replenish is the paper.
RIPS brings the same
experience you get with EcoTank to
the office market. It really is a low
intervention product.
At IFA 2017 you also
introduced a new service called
ReadyInk. Please could you tell me
more about that.
What we’re trying to do in the
consumer and SOHO markets is
to provide a number of different
ways for customers to acquire our
inkjet printers: you can buy low
cost hardware and go to a store to
buy replacement cartridges; you
can buy an EcoTank device, with a
higher upfront cost and low cost per
page; or you can buy the low cost
hardware and use it with monitoring
software that automatically sends
a replacement cartridge when ink
levels get low so you don’t have to
go to a shop to buy supplies.
The ReadyInk pay-as-you-go print
service is another way to eliminate
the inconvenience of running
out of ink. You can buy into the
EcoTank concept or you can go for
a convenient, automatic cartridge
replacement service.
Finally, I have to ask you
about the Paperlab recycling and
paper-making machine. Do you
know when it might be available in
the UK?
I’ve been working for Epson
for 25 years and Paperlab has
generated more interest than any
other product we’ve announced.
People are really interested in the
whole idea of closing the loop.
Currently, we’ve got beta test sites
in Japan and the plan is to bring it
into Europe next year.
At the moment, the device is still
very large, so if all you’re interested
in is recycled paper it’s probably
not the unit for you – you can go
to the market and buy recycled
paper cheaper than you can make
it on this device. But there are
two instances where we’re seeing
real interest: the first is where an
organisation wants to demonstrate
its environmental credentials and
the second is around security.
Because Paperlab shreds used
paper down to fibre level, anything
that’s printed on it is completely
eradicated. You can imagine the
value of that for public authorities,
hospitals, banks, legal companies,
anybody that needs securely to
dispose of customer information.
There’s a lot of discussion about
the management of personal data
online; this, if you like, is the offline
version of that.
The plan is eventually for
Paperlab to be the same size as
a WorkForce Enterprise, or even
smaller. In the future, Paperlab will
sit next to a WorkForce Enterprise,
closing the ecosystem within
a department and not just the
Epson’s new generation of cartridge-free EcoTank
printers offers even greater ease of use
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