As managed print services grow in popularity, Photizo Group wanted to help its clients in the imaging industry deliver efficient, profitable pay-per-use services that satisfy end-customers’ demands.
Photizo is harnessing IBM® Predictive Maintenance and Quality, a powerful analytics platform, to accurately determine when its clients’ customers’ toner cartridges will run out.
Optimizesmanaged print service offerings with intelligent, just-in-time toner delivery
50%less toner wastage, dramatically cutting costs for printer companies
Reducesimpact on the environment, with less waste toner ending up in landfill
Business challenge story
Navigating a brave new world
The imaging industry is undergoing a seismic shift. Today, an increasing number of printing companies are moving away from traditional business models and introducing new managed print services (MPS).
Edward Crowley, CEO of Photizo Group, explains: “Instead of simply selling printers and copiers, printer companies now offer their customers fully-managed print infrastructure and document output services. This has had an enormous impact on the way they think about the operational lifecycle of these devices. Since our clients now own and manage the whole print infrastructure themselves, any time they can discover a way to increase efficiency, it has a direct impact on their profit margins.
“A striking example of this is the supply of toner. In the past, customers would replace toner cartridges as soon as the printer displayed a ‘low toner’ message—but at that point, the cartridge is typically still about 15 to 20 percent full. Users just don’t realize that they are changing the cartridge too early. Across the imaging industry, that represents approximately USD750 million in wasted toner per year.”
He continues: “Previously, the customer purchased the cartridges, so it was their own toner they were wasting. However, with the rise of MPS, where customers pay on a page-by-page basis, the cost of wasted toner has become the service provider’s issue. If customers replace cartridges before they are actually empty, it puts a significant dent in our clients’ profitability. We wanted to find a way of reducing this wastage to help our clients operate more efficiently.”
Photizo Group recognized that the huge volumes of data generated by print devices held the answer.
“People think of the Internet of Things as a futuristic concept, but networked printers have embodied the main principles of the IoT for many years,” says Edward Crowley. “Each of the millions of connected print devices around the world monitors up to 140 different metrics about its own health, usage and performance. However, the vast majority of this data was never collected or analyzed in detail—it was largely unused and ignored. We realized that this data held the potential to significantly improve operational, financial and environmental aspects of this industry.”
Building a powerful predictive analytics solutionTo optimize clients’ toner supply processes, Photizo Group wanted to be able to pinpoint exactly when toner cartridges would run dry. Edward Crowley comments: “People don’t print in a regular, linear way—they print in waves and cycles. For example, a printer located at a school probably doesn’t do much printing over the summer vacation—but when the new school year begins, there will be a sudden spike in utilization. Understanding these kinds of usage patterns is the key to predicting the right time to send out new toner cartridges. So we needed to gain much deeper insight into how customers use their print devices.”
Photizo Group decided to deploy IBM Predictive Maintenance and Quality, a comprehensive portfolio of analytics software, as the foundation for its toner supply optimization solution.
Scott Hornbuckle, Director – Advanced Analytics at Photizo Group, recalls: “What initially attracted us to IBM Predictive Maintenance and Quality was the fact that it is a truly holistic development platform with a very wide range of capabilities. It has tools covering everything from data collection and integration to building predictive models, visualizing the results, and recommending preventive measures, which you can combine in different ways to build whatever solution you need. It’s like the best set of Legos available for IoT analytics!”
With the IBM solution in place, Photizo Group began working with PrintFleet, a strategic client, to integrate Photizo Group’s ‘as a service’ cloud-based predictive analytics model into the PrintFleet fleet management software for just-in-time toner delivery.
Scott Hornbuckle elaborates: “PrintFleet’s software collects device data from millions of printers worldwide, and makes it available via an API. As the device data comes from different brands and models of print devices, we need to standardize it before we can analyze it, so we put it through IBM Integration Bus and IBM SPSS® Modeler to cleanse it using filters for data quality and reliability.
“We can then put the data into our predictive model to analyze how each printer’s toner levels deplete over time, as well as the number, frequency and type of print jobs it is used for. This gives us an accurate picture of when the toner will run out completely, and we feed the results back to PrintFleet so that it can deliver this insight to its customers.”
Delivering right on time to save bigWith this solution from Photizo Group, companies in the printing industry can make more informed, data-driven decisions on when to ship toner cartridges to customers.
Edward Crowley remarks: “With our solution, just-in-time shipping is now a practical reality. By only shipping new toner cartridges when the old one is actually just about to run out, we will be able to help our clients dramatically reduce toner wastage.
“Our initial lab tests show that we are on track to reduce wastage by 50 percent—a huge saving. What’s more, clients will be able to make further savings on shipping costs by bundling multiple deliveries together, based on a more intelligent view of when and where customers will need replacement cartridges. By enabling them to operate more efficiently, our solution gives our clients a significant competitive advantage.”
Scott Hornbuckle adds: “As well as cutting costs, just-in-time toner delivery is much more environmentally-friendly than traditional practices. Toner is a pollutant, so the less toner that ends up in landfills, the better. It’s a win-win situation—clients save money and we help to reduce their impact on the environment at the same time.”
Based on this success, Photizo Group is currently evaluating other ways to make MPS more efficient with predictive analytics, including maintenance service route optimization and prescribing downtime prevention for commercial printers.
Edward Crowley concludes: “As the imaging industry continues to evolve, we are putting predictive IoT analytics at the heart of everything we do—finding innovative ways to help our clients out-think their rivals and maintain profitability in an increasingly competitive market.”
About Photizo Group
Photizo Group is one of the imaging industry’s leading research and consulting firms. Founded in 2006 as a boutique consulting firm for printer companies, Photizo has been the imaging market’s principal source of business intelligence and research for the rapidly growing managed print services industry. Headquartered in Lexington, KY, Photizo Group is a leading supplier of market intelligence, consulting, and advanced analytics to the major manufacturers and suppliers in the imaging industry.
- Integration Bus
- Predictive Maintenance and Quality
- SPSS Modeler
- SPSS Modeler
Take the next step
The IBM Watson IoT portfolio offers a world-class range of platforms that are transforming how companies analyze and act upon streams of data generated by connected devices. IBM provides domain and industry solutions for the Internet of Things that deliver new value to businesses, governments and individuals. For more information about IBM Watson IoT solutions, please visit ibm.com/internet-of-things.