Like many industries, printer and copier manufacturers are experiencing the effects of worldwide supply chain issues. A combination of factors from COVID-19-related issues to extreme weather has created a nightmare scenario for practically all goods retailers, and especially those in the tech industry.
You’ve likely heard about these global supply chain issues and worldwide microchip shortages. At the very least, you’ve probably been told to do your holiday shopping early! But how could these issues impact your IT plans and printer needs? Here are answers to frequently asked questions around printer and copier availability in the face of supply chain challenges.
1. What's the issue?
When it comes to what's behind the massive shipping delays and shortages: it's all about ships and chips.
The simple answer here: a backlog of cargo. American spending is outweighing the current transportation infrastructure and shipping network. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a delicate balance between consumer demand for goods to be shipped and the storage, labor, and shipping infrastructure that facilitated the delivery of those goods. This balance faced a massive shift during COVID-19 lockdowns as more Americans than ever turned to online shopping and as a country we shifted our spending from buying services to buying goods.
The root causes of the situation we’re facing today date all the way back to the beginning of the spread of COVID-19 when coronavirus lockdowns and infections shut down major ports and plants in China and Vietnam.
Even when goods do make it to the US, American ports are facing massive cargo backloads. Delays are compounding as ports try to unload, store, and transport more goods than ever without enough labor.
What are these chips causing so many issues for electronics manufacturers and retailers? These small semiconductors (also known as microchips or chips) can be found in most modern electronics like computers, smartphones, printers, cars, and televisions.
Like the ships issue, the chips shortage came about because of a variety of factors, but mainly due to significant increases in demand. During the COVID-19 lockdown, American companies and individuals bought more devices than ever including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. In fact, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported a 29% revenue increase from July 2020 to July 2021. This sudden massive increase in consumer demand along with raw materials shortages and COVID-19-related plant closures has put immense pressure on the chip market.
If you’re not thinking ahead, these shortages could wreak havoc on your IT strategy and printer needs. Modern multifunction printers and copiers are computers in their own right with an operating system and even a display.
"In one printer alone, the main control board, the image process board, network controller, and display panel drivers all function on microchips."
2. How long will this last?
While no one knows for sure, we expect this issue to continue at least through 2022. From both the suppliers we talk to on a daily basis and manufacturers, we hear that the demand for printers continues to outweigh supplies.
When looking at the worldwide factors impacting supply chain issues and chip shortages paired with consumer demand and more devices being added to the Internet of Things every day, we can expect these challenges to continue. While there is good news on the horizon in the form of more domestic microchip facilities, we likely won’t truly see an impactful increase from US factories until 2024.
3. How can I prevent challenges?
The best way to avoid being without essential print devices is to proactively order ahead to get in front of the current supply chain issues. Do you lease printers and copiers? How many of your devices are leased and when are the leases up? It might be easy to put a device out of your mind when its lease won’t be up for another year or two.
Realistically, we could still be facing chip shortages and therefore printer and copier shortages when your current devices’ leases are up. This is why it’s important to analyze your entire fleet when planning for 2022 and beyond and ordering devices well in advance of when you need them.
Manufacturers are using current orders to forecast their manufacturing needs and we recommend ordering devices for any and all print initiatives during the next 12 to 18 months.
Talk to an Expert
If you haven’t already, now is the time to make a strategic plan for how you’ll keep your IT initiatives moving despite supply chain and chip shortage issues. When it comes to printers, Managed Print Services experts can advise you on the best way to build your 2022 IT budget and talk through strategies to help you weather this storm.
MPS partners know printers and they know how to select the right devices and place them in the right spots to set your office up for success -- even in the face of these current challenges. Your MPS provider will help you analyze your current fleet for lease lengths, recommend alternative devices, and even help you create a mixed fleet to ensure your printing needs are met.