Blog Archive
October 19, 2017

Our copiers are important to the everyday function of our offices. When they are down or broken, everyone is affected. Maximize your uptime by caring for your multifunctional device correctly.

Clean your copier.

Wipe the scanning glass with a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth regularly; dust can create marks and can mess up the quality of copies. Dust your copier on the inside and outside. Be sure to follow manufacturer and maintenance company instructions so that you do not damage the machines.

Exercise caution when scanning.

When scanning papers, be sure to remove all staples and paperclips to avoid creating scratches on the glass. When using a document feeder, still remove staples and paperclips. The pages will get crinkled and could tear, and the parts inside of the document feeder could jam or break. Stay on the safe side and remove fasteners before making scans and copies.

Don’t use it as a shelf.

When the copier is not in use, avoid using it as a shelf for other items. Though it looks sturdy, the machine is delicate and has many precise parts. Even if a part does not break, the glass can easily warp with pressure, which will result in poor copies and expensive repair costs. And please—do not sit on your copier!  Whether for convenience or an office joke, copiers are not made to hold the weight of a person.

Choose the right copier.

By choosing the correct multifunctional device for your office workload, you will already be caring for your copier. If you choose the correct copier, you are less likely to experience downtime.

Get proper training.

Using a copier involves much more than pressing “copy.” They are extraordinary machines and they are intricately designed. Knowing how to use the office copier is very important. Get your employees training to learn how to best work with and care for your copier. Make office equipment training a part of your new employee training.

Load paper correctly.

Paper drawers have a fill line and it is best to fill the drawer to just under the line—never fill the drawer over the fill line. Fan the paper stack before placing it in the drawer to put air in between the sheets. This can help prevent jams. Even though paper drawers are typically close to the ground, they are delicate and have small parts that can break. Never use your feet to kick the drawer closed.

Keep food and drinks away.

Leave your drinks and food at your desk when making copies or picking up prints. Keep all food and drinks away from where the machine is stationed.

If your copier is down, or not running at optimal levels, contact Centric right now to schedule a service appointment.

October 13, 2017

So, your company has decided that it needs new office technology. You might have even decided what type. For many, the next biggest question revolves around how you will pay for this equipment—through a lease, or by buying it outright?  Both options come with advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more.

The Advantages of Leasing Office Equipment

  • Newest Technology: Office Technology is constantly changing and improving. At the end of your copier lease, it’s easy to switch to the newest equipment. Even if you are a small company, leasing enables you to stay competitive in your field.
  • Fixed Cost: With a lease, you will have a consistent monthly budget item for your office and document management technology, and you can use it to plan and budget accordingly.
  • Upfront Costs: Don’t worry about shelling out a huge sum of money for your office equipment. Your company can keep those funds in your account and allocate them for other uses. Or, your company might not have that amount of money; leasing allows you to have the multifunctional devices and document management technology while paying at your own rate.

The Disadvantages of Leasing Office Equipment

  • Cost: Leasing usually is more expensive than purchasing a copier outright. Monthly payments are easier to handle while paying, but you are paying for that convenience. The overall cost will end up adding up to more than the original cost.
  • Leasing Agreements: Leasing terms can include maintenance regulations and payment requirements. If you stop using the equipment, you may still be required to pay for the entire leasing period or a large fee, or to buy out the rest of your lease.
  • Lack of Ownership: You will never gain equity in the equipment because you will never own it. This means that you can’t sell the office equipment if you no longer need it, and it is not an asset of your company.

The Advantages of Buying Office Equipment

  • Easier: When you buy new office technology, you pick out what you need, and then you buy it. You don’t have to worry about negotiating terms or setting up your financials with the leasing company.
  • Ownership: When you buy multifunctional equipment outright, it is yours and you can do as you see fit with the machine.

The Disadvantages of Buying Office Equipment

  • Outdated Technology: With the rapid changes in document management technology, your office equipment will become outdated. You will need to either continue using outdated equipment or donate or sell the copier and buy new. Newer multifunction machines are easier for service companies to maintain and typically have lower operating costs.
  • Cash Flow: If you’re a smaller business, you might not have the funds to shell out the money required to buy office technology outright. This could limit your ability to purchasing copier equipment that will help you be as strong as your competitors.

Buying new office equipment and document management technology can be a big decision for your company. To learn more about the office equipment that Centric offers, contact us at (877) 902-3301.

September 29, 2017

In a world where photocopiers, printers and scanners are present, and usually prolific, across all office environments, we struggle to imagine or remember what life was like before this technology was readily available.

It's All Greek to Me

Charles Carlson lived in that time and saw a need for a quick and easy way to make copies. He created a process called electrophotography in 1937; the process was later renamed Xerography, which comes from the Greek words xeros, meaning dry and graphos, meaning writing.

A job with a local printer in his teenage years led Carlson to his interest in the duplicating process. From his work, he inherited a small printing press on the edge of its life. On it, he printed a magazine for amateur chemists.

It was a modest publication, and he only printed two issues, but the hobby made Carlson aware of the difficulties of getting information into multiple hard copies. He started a little inventor’s notebook, where he would record any ideas he had on the subject.

Trying economic times led the well-educated (he held degrees in chemistry and physics) Carlson to trouble in finding and keeping jobs. After being laid off from a research engineer position with Bell Telephone Laboratories, he worked for a short time as a patent attorney before moving to an electronics firm. He studied law at night and earned a law degree; he was later promoted to manager of the firm’s patent department.

As Carlson moved through his career, he continued to think about the duplication process, noticing that there always seemed to be a lack of carbon copies of patent information. There were limited options for obtaining more copies—sending out for expensive photocopies, or retyping the documents and manually checking for errors.

Copy That

Carlson began to research imaging processes, thinking that offices would greatly benefit and excel with an in-house device that could make copies quickly and inexpensively. He developed the fundamentals of his methods in his apartment’s kitchen and submitted his ideas for a patent.

To further invest in his research, Carlson rented a second-floor room over a bar and hired a lab assistant, Otto Kornei, who was a physicist and German refugee. Together, they worked to create experiments from Carlson’s ideas.

In 1938, Carlson and his lab assistant created the first photocopy. It read “10.-22.-38” signifying the date, with their location, “Astoria” underneath.

It would be 10 years before Carlson found a company that was willing to develop his idea of xerography. In 1944, a nonprofit research company agreed to begin developing the idea after signing a royalty-sharing contract. In 1947, The Haloid Company, which developed photo paper, entered the deal and began to develop the idea of a photocopier.

What's In A Name? The Generic Trademark

The company changed its name to Haloid Xerox and created the first automated xerographic machine, the Copyflo. The first commercial push-button photocopier was introduced in 1958—it was called the 914.

The 914, named for its ability to copy anything up to the size 9 inches by 14 inches, saw great success and was in huge demand, despite there being some flaws. Haloid Xerox shortened its name to Xerox and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

By the mid-1970s, Ricoh, Minolta, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sharp and Canon were producing competitive products to the Xerox machine. Xerox initially overall held consumers’ loyalties, but other copier manufacturers began to employ a local tactic—small local dealerships would sell their machines and service.

Manufacturers worked to break the interchangeable use of “Xerox” and “copy.” Xerox machines became photocopy machines or photocopiers; Xeroxing became copying. A new age of companies exists because the original photocopier made a recognizable difference to the everyday workflows of companies across the world.

For more information on the latest technology in photocopiers and office equipment, contact us at 877-902-3301. 

September 21, 2017

In an office environment, the printers are almost always busy completing their latest jobs. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, according to The Paperless Project. With so many prints, there are common mistakes that can cost you and your company time, money and professionalism. Read on to discover some of the most common printing mistakes, and how you can fix them.

Printing in color

Though a great number of office documents are monochrome, employees regularly are printing in color without knowing. Though it costs only a few cents more for each page, those pennies quickly add up. Just one employee printing in black-and-white instead of color could save your company hundreds of dollars each year. Be sure to check your printer’s preferences and change color to black-and-white. For companies, there are management systems that allow users to be defaulted or restricted to printing in black-and-white.

Using low-resolution images

When printing a photo, always make sure that its resolution is at least 300 pixels per inch (PPI). Finding the resolution of a photo varies based on the type of computer and program you are using. In general, if you are on a Mac, you can open the photo in Preview and click Command+I. On a PC, right-click on the file. Then choose Properties, and click the Details tab. The Image section will tell you the image dimensions, and the File section will show the image file size.

Poor design

In corporate, and most other, design, it is best to keep your documents and designs simple. Aim for clean, crisp text in dark colors. Try not to overcrowd a document. Don’t use more than three colors, and make sure that they look good together. Stick with timeless fonts—Times New Roman, Garamond or Georgia if you want serifs; try Ariel, Tahoma or Century Gothic if you are looking for a sans serif font. These fonts are popular for a reason. Avoid Comic Sans, Curlz and any other font that is overly detailed. There are, of course, exceptions, but for most office printing, it’s best to keep it simple.

Spelling errors

Always be sure to double-check (and even triple check) work before it is printed. Not doing so can call the company’s professionalism into question. Never rely solely on spell-check, as it does not catch diction errors such as “there” being “their” or “red” where you meant to type “read.”

Printing single-sided

Some prints and copies need to be single-sided, but many do not. By printing double-sided, you can save in paper costs up to 50 percent!  Double-sided printing can often be chosen as a default through the printer or through a print management system; this way, you need only go into settings to choose single-sided if you know that it is necessary for the document.

Printers are central to all office environments and they are often one of the most useful and powerful tools. Be aware of your printing habits, and what they can cost you. 

September 14, 2017

Data security is becoming one of the most serious concerns in the business world. That not only includes data breaches, as we discussed in a previous blog post, but also loss due to disaster. In some industries, such as health care, HIPAA regulations require certain levels of document security.

A document management system is software that manages and tracks electronic documents. It can be used in conjunction with scanners and multifunctional devices (MFDs) to create a document workflow that is easy to use and navigate in an office environment.

In addition to improving workflows, document management systems come with features that enhance the security of your company’s important and confidential information.

Document encryption

According to TechTarget, “data, often referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm and an encryption key.” The information can be viewed in its original format only if the correct key is used to decipher the message. Document encryption is essential to providing the most secure environment for your company’s documents and records.

Role-based access

Role-based access starts when users are added to a company’s document management system. Each user is assigned a role; roles can be assigned to teams or left alone. Based on the role and the team to which a user is assigned, this grants the user access to certain documents and information. This feature keeps information secured to only those who need access.

Audit trail

Document management systems provide audit trails for all of the documents contained. An audit trail tracks a document through its lifecycle. This feature gives administrators the ability to see who edited a document, when they made the changes, what those changes were and any comments made at the time. This enables a company to understand the accountability for mistakes or to clarify anything that changed within the document’s lifecycle.

Modify ownership

When an employee leaves a company, the ownership of his or her documents can be transferred to another user. This allows for greater accessibility and also for increased security, so that former employees do not have a way to access sensitive information.

Disaster recovery

By using a cloud-based document management system, your important documents and information will be stored and available should a disaster occur. Paper documents can get lost in a natural disaster or due to human error. With an online-based backup, you will not have to worry about important documents being unable to be recovered.

With the security of documents and company information being more important than ever, it is crucial to integrate a secure document management system into your company’s workflow. Centric can get you started. Call us at 877-902-3301 to learn more about the secure document management solutions available for your company!

September 08, 2017

A hybrid of a projector, a computer and a traditional whiteboard, electronic whiteboards (also known as interactive whiteboards) make for the ultimate collaboration tool. With their vast array of features, electronic whiteboards are great resources for schools and companies alike.

Interactive methods create engaged users and enhanced collaboration

Involve all of your participants, whether they are students or colleagues, with games, interactive models, the ability to notate on screen and more!  Using these methods can help with attention during presentations and retention of information.

Multisensory learning leads to more engaged audiences

Whiteboards allow for those engaged to see, hear and physically interact with the material itself. The tool is especially helpful for visual and kinesthetic learners, and students with learning disabilities.

Annotate documents and presentations in real-time

Use highly responsive touch pens or your fingers to make notes directly on a document. You can then, with the notes, save the document to a drive, print it or send it out.

Connected mobile devices add another layer of connectivity

View what is on the whiteboard screen from connected mobile devices, such as laptops, cell phones or tablets. This is helpful when many people want to see closer up, but do not need to be interacting with the whiteboard itself. This feature also enables users to easily share the whiteboard screen remotely.

No muss, no fuss

With the electronic whiteboards, you will not need to search high and low for dry erase markers (which tend to disappear quickly in education environments, especially). Your board has a touch pen, and you can also use your fingers without getting them covered in ink,

Improved document workflow

Scan a document from your MFD directly to the electronic whiteboard. After working with the document on the whiteboard, you can print or save to a PC. 

Check out our collection of interactive and electronic whiteboards HERE.

August 30, 2017

Did you know that many business systems dealers can help you bring a print shop in-house to your company?  While commercial print shops certainly have their places for large, detailed and abnormal jobs, many jobs that would normally have been outsourced can now be easily completed in-house with the technology that is readily available from dealers.

Many large companies and organizations have made the switch and have opened print and copy shops right in their own facilities. In-house printing is especially popular in university and hospital settings.

At universities, print shops can copy forms; create fliers, mailers and advertisements (for on- and off-campus use); make booklets and keep up with the speed and ever-changing needs of an educational environment. In hospitals, print and copy shops can keep up with the high volume of forms needed, as well as maintaining patient data security.

In-house printing is not just for large organizations; the in-house printing concept can be scaled to fit any size company by using the wide variety of multifunctional devices (MFDs) on the market.

Save on Time

With in-house print shops, jobs can be completed the same day. When outsourcing, jobs usually take days to complete and expediting the job can cost your company greatly. When in-house, those working in the print shop know the organization and have its mission as the priority. They are able to prioritize certain jobs based on importance.

Save on Costs

While very large, very specialized or very high-quality jobs are often best suited for outsourcing, most everyday print needs can be met in-house, and will usually save you and your company money.

Added Security

When outsourcing print jobs, you must send information and files to the print company. In a world where data security is becoming more important each day, printing in-house eliminates another security risk. This is especially useful for hospitals, schools and law offices, where data security is crucial.

Less Waste

There is no need to store tons of papers because you had to order a large run to save money and time—you can print as you go!  Don’t waste excess materials that are never going to be used because they are out of date or because too many copies were run. On the same note, you don’t need to waste valuable storage space to stock thousands of extra copies.

Stay Up-to-Date

You will have the flexibility to stay current with all of your printed materials; you only need to print the most updated versions when you need them!  Enjoy greater flexibility in being more specific with the information because you can make changes and print only when needed.

August 24, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we gave you a list of a few functions of your multifunctional device (MFD) that you might not have known about. We have compiled a second list to share with you, as there were too many interesting features for just one list!

Stamping

Your printer can be set up to add stamps to printed documents, including dates, watermarks, page numbers and usernames. When monitoring printing at your office, this tool can be especially useful. This tool can help keep papers organized, up-to-date and linked to the correct person and project.

Previewing before scanning

Certain copiers allow you to preview the document on the user panel and make edits before copying or scanning. Eliminate excess work at your desk by taking care of small edits right at the copier. Combine this tool with the scan to features, and your workflow will become even more efficient.

Mixed size originals

Many printers can be set up to scan and copy documents of different sizes mixed together. These pages can also be set to scan in as one job.

Blank page skip

When scanning a document that is mixed with one- and two-sided pages, you can set your MFD to automatically delete the blank pages when scanning them all into one document. It makes for one less task that you have to do from your desk, saving you time and energy.

Optical character recognition

Optical character recognition (OCR) technology can turn an image-based document (such as a scanned document or image with text) into a responsive and editable file. For you and your company, this could mean medical records get scanned and become editable on the computer. It could mean that instead of retyping the information in a brochure or article that you simply scan the document and let your MFD technology work for you! 

A great way to discover more functions and features of your company MFD is to talk to your dealer or service provider about training. If you are a client of Centric, we have an experienced and knowledgeable training team dedicated to helping you get the most out of your machine.

Are there any lesser-known functions that you use to increase workflow efficiency?  Let us know in the comments!  

August 16, 2017

A data breach occurs when any sensitive information is exposed, whether maliciously or innocently, to an unauthorized source. Hackers and viruses may instinctively come to mind when you think of a data breach, but employees meaning no harm can also be risks for breaches.

Despite increased awareness and technological developments, approximately 62 data breaches occur every second, according to the Breach Level Index. Knowing your company’s weaknesses can help to prevent devastating losses.

The Three Most Common Data Breaches

The three most common types of data breaches are physical, electronic and skimming. Depending on your company, you might be more at risk for certain breaches rather than others.

  • Physical: A physical data breach occurs much like you might imagine—physical records or devices containing data are stolen—a laptop, mobile device, file cabinet, hard drive, point-of-sale equipment, etc.
  • Electronic: Electronic data breaches are the malicious obtaining of data through a system or network via web servers or web sites.
  • Skimming: Skimming is the process of recording the information from the strip on the back of credit cards. An external device can be added to a piece of point-of-sale equipment (usually without the merchant’s knowledge), or an employee who takes the card can scan it on a skimming device without your knowledge.

Other Types of Data Breaches

While less common, these other types of data breaches can be no less dangerous or costly.

  • Uninformed employees: Checking work emails from an unsecured mobile device, leaving a laptop in a car, not closing out of application windows when the user has finished and not changing passwords regularly seem like harmless actions, but these leave your company susceptible to malicious attackers. Hold seminars or send protocol updates to make your employees aware of the holes that their habits might leave for cyber criminals. Many employees are also victims of phishing; train your employees on how to detect a suspicious email, and have them report it directly to your Information Technology (IT) department as soon as it is received (without clicking any links or giving the sender any information).
  • Malicious insiders: Insider threats are considered to be one of the biggest risks to cyber security. Some of these are innocent, or the employee does not realize the consequences of being careless with security, as explained above. Some employees, however, have malicious intent; as employees who undoubtedly already have access to at least some of your company’s data, it can be very easy for them to gain access to sensitive information. Take special care to promptly remove access for any terminated employees. Limit the access given to all files, folders and systems to just those who need it.
  • Third-party service providers: If your company uses a third-party to provide cloud storage, accounting, maintenance or any other countless services, your information could be vulnerable via their systems. Make sure to choose reputable companies when doing business and go over security protocols. If you discontinue use with a provider, be sure to disable any account permissions, if they had any.

Combatting Data Breaches

The effects that a data breach can have on your company greatly depend on many factors, including but not limited to: the size of your company, the type of data breach and the severity of the attack. Know your weaknesses, train your employees and outfit your company with the best technology to protect your data. 

Contact Centric Business Solutions at (877) 902-3301 for help implementing IT and document management solutions that will help protect against some of the most common types of data breaches. 

August 11, 2017

Copiers, printers and multifunctional devices (MFDs) are often taken at face value—they are meant to print, copy, scan and/or fax. Your company spends a lot of money to buy and maintain these complex machines, so why not use them to their maximum capacities?  There are many features that go unused simply because users are not made aware of a device’s functions, which can improve your company’s workflow and efficiency.

Read on to discover just a few functions on most MFDs that will make your and your co-workers’ lives easier.

Scan directly to folder

Improve your workflow and avoid hassle by scanning a document directly to a folder, rather than scanning to your email, then saving the file and moving it to the correct drive.

Double-sided printing

Most printers and MFDs are capable of double-sided printing, and usually it is as simple as going into your printer preferences when printing a document and switching the document style to “double-sided” or “2-sided.” There will also usually be a choice between book style and tablet style. For most documents, you will want book style, where you can read both sides without flipping the page upside down. In tablet style, the tops are on opposite sides and you must flip the page over to read it, as if you were flipping through a tablet.

Utilizing the double-sided printing function is a great way to cut back on paper, which not only helps the environment, but also saves money and reduces the amount of clutter on your desk.

Convert single-sided documents to double-sided, or vice versa

When scanning and copying single-sided documents, you can choose to output that document double-sided, saving on paper and costs. You can also choose to do the reverse, should that suit your needs.

Create shortcuts on the control panel for easy access to regularly used functions

To make everyday work even more efficient, most copiers and MFDs allow you to create shortcuts that will appear on the user panel. These might include scanning directly to a particular folder, emailing to a specific person, searching files from a network drive and many others that can be altered to fit your needs.

Default to black-and-white and utilize other rules to help your company save money

Companies waste thousands of dollars every year in unnecessary printing costs, but your MFD is smart enough to help prevent that from happening. By adding rules to your company printing, such as defaulting to black-and-white or double-sided, you can help save on costs.

Hold print jobs for security and follow me printing

Most printers have an option that will send a print job to a virtual cloud to be held until you physically go to a printer and release. You initiate the process by sending your print job as normal, but you determine where and when it is printed by either swiping a card or entering a password at the device. This process is ideal for settings where document security is especially important, such as in health care or education environments.

A great way to discover more functions and features of your company MFD is to talk to your dealer or service provider about training. If you are a client of Centric, we have an experienced and knowledgeable training team dedicated to helping you get the most out of your machine.

Are there any lesser-known functions that you use to increase workflow efficiency?  Let us know in the comments!