Published December 31, 1998

Office Equipment Maintenance: Preventative and Cleaning Maintenance

Every home office relies on them: printers, fax machines, copiers. We assume office equipment will be up and running, but when it doesn't, the results can be devastating.

"Downtime of any duration, whether for equipment failure or a simple toner cartridge change, reduces productivity and eventually, profitability,'' says Roger Karvel, president of Information Alternatives, an office automation firm based outside Chicago.

Taking advantage of a preventative maintenance contract -- negotiated with the original equipment manufacturer or other reliable source -- can cost half as much as service purchased on an as-needed basis, according to Karvel.

"Too often, office machines are the victims of delayed maintenance, which can cost a company big bucks down the line.''

But even technophobes can do basic maintenance without calling in the troops. "It's an obvious thing, but people rarely take the time to learn the proper way to perform day-to-day cleaning, testing and cartridge installation,'' he says. "Sometimes just removing and gently shaking a cartridge that registers low in toner can yield hundreds of additional pages once it's reinserted."

Karvel encourages office personnel to implement a simple "low-tech'' maintenance program: a can of compressed air and a hand-held vacuum designed for office equipment use. Both items typically are available at office supply stores or computer retailers.

"Spraying the compressed air in and around your machine once a month to remove surface dust, then following with a thorough vacuuming, can eliminate one or two service calls per year per machine,'' says Karvel. "At an average cost of $100 per service call, the savings can really add up.''