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Duplicating success.

Running down to the local copy center can be taxing, both financially and physically. While 24-hour copy services can make your life easier--allowing you to make copies at midnight, for instance--you might find that you're spending more time at the copy center than your home office or small business. If so, you might want to bring copying jobs in-house. With a bit of research, you may even find significant savings from buying a copy machine for your business.

The market is appealing right now for would-be buyers, says Carl Lindquist, a senior consultant with BIS Strategic Decisions, a Norwell, Mass.-based market research firm. Vendors are offering a wide range of features, including digital, full-color and multifunctional capability.

Although digital copiers are used mainly by graphics and design firms, general business is starting to use them as well. Digital copiers have flexible editing capabilities that let you expand, outline and even reverse type. For instance, Ricoh Corp., in West Caldwell, N.J., manufactures the DS320FX. The unit, retailing for $9,995, combines a plain-paper laserfax system with a digital copier.

If you constantly juggle several tasks, you might consider a multifunctional copier. Using digital technology, multifunctional units can fax, print and scan documents. According to BIS Strategic Decisions, about 350,000 of these units will be sold by next year, expanding the market to $1.5 billion.

Multicopying, plain-paper use, reduction/enlargement capabilities and color copying are now standard features on most copiers. While full-featured color copiers are exorbitantly high--in the $15,000 range many manufacturers now offer color-options on their mid-size and low-end models, which sell for $2,000 to $7,000.

The NP-4835i from Canon U.S.A. Inc. in Lake Success, N.Y., offers the Image Editor, a feature that lets you manipulate images by adding color or text to documents. The unit, which produces 35 copies per minute (cpm), retails for 10,300.

The company's low-end model, the NP-2020, uses an interchangeable color-toner cartridge. It makes 20 cpm and has a 250-sheet loading capacity. Accessories include a 30-sheet automatic document feeder and a 1,000-sheet paper deck. The NP-2020 retails for $3,695.

Digital technology and editing capabilities open up new opportunities to originate color documents. These colorful features are ideal for anyone working with pie charts, photographs, reports, diagrams, manuals, catalogs, sales materials and other graphics literature. Some heavy-duty color copiers are even a nice substitute for a printer when hooked up to an IBM PC, compatible or an Apple Macintosh.

If you have a home office or small business, you probably won't require a multifunctional or digital copier, though. A low-end personal copier may be all you need. Many of the newer personal models have the same features as their larger counterparts.

Consider three desktop models--the EP2120, EP2151 and EP3170 from Minolta Corp. in Ramsey, N.J. The 2120 makes 12 cpm; the 2151 produces 15 cpm. Both can handle up to 3,500 copies per month. The 3170, on the other hand, reproduces 17 cpm and handles up to 10,000 copies per month. Features include an automatic document feeder with 50-sheet capacity. The copiers retail for $1,895, $3,135 and $3,395, respectively.

If you want to add color to your documents, Minolta's EP4230 will do the trick. This mid-size copier reproduces 23 cpm and handles up to 20,000 copies per month. It lists for $4,395.

Xerox Corp. in Stamford, Conn., offers the 5011 R/E. This unit makes 12 cpm and up to 3,500 copies in a month. It retails for $1,695.

The Canon NP-1020 handles 5,000 pages per month, which is slightly more than the average personal copier; however, it makes only 10 cpm. The unit retails for $2,100. For low- to medium-volume users, Sharp Electronics Corp. in Mahwah, N.J., offers the SF-7370. This model handles up to 10,000 copies per month and 14 cpm, and retails for $2,775.

Sizing Up The Market

Choosing a photocopier for your home office or small business is not easy. To help you wade through a multitude of duplicating systems, consider the following buying tips.

For starters, get a handle on how many copies a month you will need. Low-end machines, best-suited for personal copying, handle about 400 copies per month and produce 10 cpm. Mid-size copiers handle 1,400 to 9,150 copies per month and make 10 to 45 cpm. The big boys--often referred to as central xerographic duplicating machines--are capable of managing 195,000-plus copies per month and producing more than 90 cpm.

Be conservative about estimating a machine's output. Take the manufacturer's copies-per-month figure and nearly double that to determine your average monthly volume, says Jeanelle Smith, vice president of C.D.P. Imaging Systems, an office equipment sales and services firm in Phoenix, Ariz. In other words, if you plan on producing 6,000 copies per month, buy a copier that can handle up to 10,000 copies. Compare these numbers to a car's speedometer: If you drive at maximum speed the majority of the time, then the life of your vehicle is reduced. The same thing will happen to a photocopier.

If you look closely, you may find the cpm marked right on the copier. Usually, the higher the output, the higher the price of the unit. But, given the stiff competition, you might find that personal copiers sell for under $1,000 on the street and mid-size copiers for around $2,000. Bear in mind that cpms cannot be increased. You will have to purchase another machine to improve copy speed.

Two features to consider are a document handler and document sorter. The former is a must if you copy multiple documents. Without it, you will have to feed each page sheet-by-sheet. If you plan to copy a lot of multi-page documents, such as booklets, you will want a document sorter.

Other important considerations when choosing a copier are service contracts and warranties. Most copiers come with a 90-day warranty. Service contracts are available from the manufacturer; some start at $100 per year and typically include a couple of cleanings. Some contracts require you to bring the machine to the manufacturer's facility for repairs.

While on-site contracts are a bit more expensive, they might be worth it if you don't have time to lug your machine around to a service site. Some contracts limit the number of visits per year, while others cover labor only. But those that cover labor may not give you much of a discount on parts. A word of warning: The retail price may not always include the features you desire. For instance, a stapler might cost you another $1,000.

If you do choose to purchase a service contract, just make sure you read the fine print, so that you understand exactly what you are paying for.

With all the talk about a paperless office, one would think that buying a machine that generates more paper is absurd. But like it or not, paper is here to stay. And knowing what features are available in different machines is the best way to keep from getting rooked.

TECH TIPS

In today's job market, computer literacy is fast becoming a must at all job levels. In fact, three out of four executives agree that computer skills have a major impact on their companies' overall operations, according to a nationwide survey of 1,481 management information systems executives.

Conducted by The Olsten Corp., in Westbury, N.Y., the survey found that 71% of companies now require their managers and supervisors to be computer literate--up 360/o from just three years ago. And 90% of companies demand computer literacy for secretaries and clerical support staff.

Moreover, skill-based pay is taking on new meaning, with computer-literate employees generally earning 15% to 20% more than those without such experience. Now, lawyers who have computerized training in research are considered more valuable to their firms. And nurses who are familiar with computerized case management are better positioned at the hospital.

Ironically, more than half of the companies surveyed do not offer their employees specific training. Most simply rely on bare bone tools, such as the manuals that come with their computer systems. Of companies that do conduct training workshops, less than a third have onsite facilities to help employees develop their computer skills.

As new systems continue to infiltrate nearly every business, more employers will be forced to hire product trainers to teach their workers. Since computer systems and software are evolving at such a rapid pace, if s important to constantly train employees, says Robert Lyons, vice president of special services for Olsten. This is especially critical in today's highly competitive global arena, where small and big corporations need a technically savvy work force.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:copying machines
Author:Starr, B.J.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:1466
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