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Chain Reaction Cycles

“On the right track” – OKI’s Managed Print Services deliver efficiencies to world’s largest online bike store


About the company

Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) was established in 1985 and has grown from a small family-owned bicycle shop to the world’s largest online bike store. Employing over 600 people, the company’s main warehouse in Doagh, Northern Ireland has a capacity of 100,000 square feet, houses 90,000 product IDs and ships to over 115 countries around the world.

The challenge

CRC has an intensive requirement for printing solutions. The company uses these for three main purposes: general office/administrative work, advertising/promotions and dispatch. Of these, the latter typically supports the highest print volumes, carrying out around four million prints per year and at peak times having the ability to dispatch up to 24 orders per minute.
 
Until recently, CRC’s print fleet had grown organically on an “as-needed” basis. As a result, the company ended up with devices from lots of manufacturers together with a range of different support contracts and varying types of toner. The approach had a number of major disadvantages. It was expensive, inefficient and was failing to support enhanced business productivity.

The solution

The company decided it needed to standardise its printing resource and sought advice on the best approach from IT service partner EOS Systems, who in turn recommended Managed Print Services (MPS) from OKI. CRC was impressed by the broad range of potential benefits that MPS offered, including greater convenience, reduced costs, better budgetary control and enhanced business agility, and so it decided to go down this route.
 
EOS Systems and CRC worked hard to put a proposal together. They then ran a standard procurement process, at the end of which CRC chose OKI. As Paddy Devine, ICT Infrastructure Manager, commented: “Before we implemented the OKI MPS solution, we had already been using some OKI devices in our dispatch department and they had proved fast, versatile and reliable. We were also impressed with the experience and expertise OKI displayed in terms of implementing and running MPS solutions.”
 
OKI initiated the MPS process at CRC by carrying out a print audit lasting one month. It took a snapshot of all the company’s printers, which numbered over 100, and the volumes they printed and then repeated the process at the end of the audit. This enabled OKI to estimate the total number of pages CRC printed in a typical year and to tailor its proposal accordingly.
 
“It was then a joint effort between OKI, EOS Systems and our own IT team to implement the new energy efficient OKI solutions,” says Devine. “This was done over a period of weeks. We didn’t rush in and implement all of the printers in one go. We just put in four or five printers in key areas at the start, just to prove the concept and the implementation plan. We then took the next three or four weeks to implement printers across the rest of the company.”
 
The printers were financed and supplied at no capital cost to CRC, saving the company thousands of pounds in the process.

The benefits

CRC now has 84 printers in place at its main Doagh warehouse. In its dispatch area, where fast, reliable and hard-wearing devices are required, it mainly uses OKI ES4131 A4 mono printers which have a fast time for first page and a reputation for resilience. CRC also uses the OKI ES4131 printers for some office and general administrative printing.

  

It has implemented the OKI ES5430 colour A4 printer for executive printing and also for some office workgroups of up to ten people. In the advertising and promotions department, where there is a requirement for precise, high-quality output, it mainly uses the OKI ES7120, which has a reputation for fast speeds, low total cost of ownership and multiple printing options. A number of colour multifunction products in A3 (ES8460MFP) and A4 (ES5461MFP) formats make up the balance of equipment. 

 

One of the greatest benefits of the managed print services approach from CRC’s perspective is that it offers a more standardised approach, effectively streamlining the company’s whole approach to printing.

 

“From my point of view as IT manager, the main benefit of standardising on OKI and adopting an MPS approach is that it has made the whole process of delivering IT support a lot easier for us,” says Devine.  “We have seen a significant decrease in support calls. Toner cartridges now arrive automatically when we need them and we no longer have to scramble around looking for toners at the last minute.

 

“Obviously there have been cost benefits as well. The MPS approach provides visibility into the printing process, enabling us to monitor the overall number of prints and the departmental split, showing where volumes are high, and enabling us to make appropriate adjustments as and when required. We estimate it will save us 28% on our annual print costs.

 

“An additional benefit of the implementation is that we have now adopted duplex printing. We hadn’t previously factored paper costs into the business case at all. We’ve saved on paper because everything is coming out duplex instead so there is an extra cost benefit that we were not really expecting – and doing this enables us to reduce waste and help preserve the environment at the same time.

 

“The MPS approach also helps in planning budgets. We previously had no proper control over our costs in terms of toners, it was just basically on-demand, and there would have been an additional cost for that. We now have a MPS contract with EOS Systems which allows us to spread payments evenly over three years. This enables us to plan our expenditure much more accurately and carefully.”

 

Centralised management is another key benefit of the OKI MPS. All 84 printers are monitored remotely using a web-based software tool known as PrintFleet, while the operating state of each printer can be displayed including remaining toner capacity and usage, device status, location and recent activity

The future

Critically, the printers themselves have proved extremely reliable since implementation. “The initial implementation was smooth and we have had no major issues since then,” says Devine. “Feedback on the ground has been largely positive. People are noticing that the availability of the toners is much better. Typically, when you make changes you expect some criticism, but in this case, the criticism was minimal – a tribute both to the quality of printers and the approach to printing we have taken.”
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The OKI Smart Managed Print Services programme encompasses a range of tried and tested methods and tools to establish the current state of an organisation’s print related costs and processes before OKI create a professional bespoke proposal to suit individual customer specific requirements. Our sales and engineering staff work closely with our key partners to offer Managed Print Solutions with maximum customer value.

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