The Professional Buyers Guide to Large Format MFP
This guide is intended to provide the background on what a Multi-Functional Peripheral (MFP) can do for you in a large or wide format document oriented Enterprise environment and what impact these devices may have on the professional workflow. Whilst the original intention of an MFP device covers media of all types and sizes throughout the enterprise workflow, this Buyers Guide will concentrate on the larger or wider format documents comprising media up to 56 inches (1,423 mm) wide and of indeterminate lengths.
What does MFP mean?
The term MFP or Multi-Functional Peripheral has been in use for a long time and whilst MFP is widely quoted, the origins of this acronym may have been long forgotten. More recently the printer manufacturers started using the acronym MFP to describe the use of a Printer in an environment where it was attached to other devices – typically a scanner and / or a computer. This allowed the printer combination to provide image capture, storage and copying or print reproduction capability and where appropriately connected, communication through Fax, data network or e-mail.
Why is the MFP important?
Why have large format MFP solutions become more popular? The main reason is the rising popularity of the large format technically oriented documents in the field of Architecture, Engineering and Construction due primarily to the increased computing power & sophistication of CAD based applications, coupled with the lowering cost of wide format printing. If we follow through the wide format printed CAD document usages in the key AEC sectors, these documents are key working drawings that contain information on how something is constructed or laid out. Where the printed information is being used or interpreted as perhaps on a construction site, manual additions or layout corrections hand written on these documents need to be captured for either legal reasons or for maintaining an audit trail of alterations to the original plan. This can only be done if the amended document can be stored either manually or scanned and stored digitally and these days the cost of digital storage is far less than required for storing paper based evidence.
With some technology acquisition costs declining, the threshold for adopting an MFP based workflow becomes more persuasive as these component costs of MFP devices such as integrated scanner and printers can now be acquired at an attractive price. However, where capital investments such as in printing have already taken place, then the concept of the MFP is still valid but will be satisfied by creating solutions that can offer cost effective results using existing major components such as scanner or printer and adding the Workflow software.
If we consider the major drivers for incorporating an MFP into the document workflow, it becomes apparent that increasing costs exist where employees are involved in either processing or producing various types of documentation for either internal or external consumption. Add to that the increasing cost and contention for available floor space or work areas within many companies, this has caused management to consider alternatives in the way some of the key processes or products are executed. Changing the processes may not be possible due to legal restrictions in reducing manpower or company structure, but simplifying the workflow or the time taken to complete certain jobs do help to reduce waste, time and costs. With the MFP, all the critical hardware and software components for document production, archive and printing can be in one location and combine to create a simple and effective workflow providing easy operation and a smaller footprint.
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