TCO: When buying a printer costs more than 1.8 million euro

February 20th, 2020
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The story is incredible but true. The Irish parliament spent 808,000 euro on a state-of-the-art printer, only to realise it was too big to fit into its new home.

An error that caused the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the printer to jump to more than 1.8 million euro, including more than 15% in unnecessary expenses! Costs that could have been avoided, especially with public money being involved.

The story of a printer with a record TCO

This story is the perfect example of the importance of TCO and product specifications in a B2B procurement framework. In 2018, the Irish parliament decided to buy a state-of-the-art Komori printer for 808,000 euro, and with related equipment (guillotines, folding machines etc.) on top, cost more than 1 million euro.

But when the printer was delivered, the teams noticed that the printer wouldn't fit into its new home and wouldn't even go through some of the doors because of its dimensions (2.1 metres high by 1.9 metres wide)!

As returning it wasn't an option because the contract had already been signed, the printer was stored elsewhere for about ten months for the necessary structural works to be carried out on the building. In total, the cost of storage, combined with the cost of the work (ceiling heightening, electricity etc.) was more than 287,000 euro.

And the story doesn't end there! After the printer was installed in September 2019, a new awkward question came up: Would teams need any specific training to use this cutting-edge machine? The question remains unanswered, but one thing is certain, to this very day, the printer is still not up and running.

TCO, product specification and supplier: Three must-haves

This case, which made headlines in Ireland, underscores the three essential components for any major purchase or project of this type:

  • Stick to a TCO approach, by taking into account the purchase price and all other ancillary costs, like in this case with operating/training costs and non-quality costs.
  • Detail the product specifications, whether in terms of functionality, quality or results, by asking users and the necessary experts, in this case a specialist architect, for example.
  • Choose the right partner supplier, i.e. an expert in their field, who advises and supports the company from start to finish in choosing its products.

This story is certainly not a one-off, and invaluable lessons can be learnt from the case!

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