If your car’s air conditioning stops working, the whole car doesn’t stop running. If its right-hand turn signal burns out, your car doesn’t grind to a halt. If the car’s maintenance light starts flashing, it still drives. A number of issues can arise when driving your car, but unless the main engine or another major component of the automobile breaks down, your car will get you from point A to point B.
The new printers and MFPs announced on Oct. 24, Lexmark’s “ever-ready” devices, function the same way.
“The primary function of a printer is to print,” said Danny Chapman, system architect for small and medium workgroup monochrome printers. “If a non-critical feature/function doesn’t work, how do we make it so the printer doesn’t shut down, and can still print?
“Suppose a customer has this really important document that they must print, and this little feature that they don’t care about at that moment is failing,” Chapman continued. “Customers think, ‘Why did you shut down my whole system and take away all of my ability to print? I just need it to print!’ We decided we needed to do better.”
The principles of ever-ready were two-fold: to keep the device up as much as possible and to only tell the user about a problem when the person’s help is needed.
And that is what the cross functional team set out to do with members of product management, the controller team, firmware, publications and services among others.
“The team set up pillars of expectations around ‘ever-ready’ and agreed on it,” said Allen Waugerman, former general manager of small workgroup products who is now vice president and general manager of worldwide annuities, sales and marketing. “Let’s ‘hide’ issues the customer can’t help with, let’s auto correct or work around those where we can. Everyone agreed and then every functional area did their part.”
There are three components of “ever-ready” that are featured on each new printer and MFP announced in October.
Auto firmware recovery: When the firmware has an internal error the printer actually recovers before the customer knows that the error is there.
Jam flushing: When a jam does occur, the user removes that one page that has jammed and the printer then flushes out the remainder of the print job and reprints the jammed page.
Safe Mode: This disables non-critical systems, but still allows the user to print while waiting for service or repair.
“This program implementation was a mind shift from engineering a product to engineering a customer experience,” said Waugerman.
The “ever-ready” concept has been around for quite some time, starting with firmware back in 1997 and on the Lexmark X422 when we moved from a modular to an all-in-one scanner.
“Nobody looked at this and said this was a bad idea,” said Matt Coriale, senior manager, Experience Design group. “In hindsight it was a common sense thing to do. This feature will be especially helpful in Lexmark MPS accounts, and customers won’t be calling the help desk as often. In turn it will amplify the reliability of Lexmark products and our brand promise.”
“This was a key deliverable for the product set as we move upstream to take A3 pages and become an end-to-end solutions provider,” said Waugerman. “We had to have this robustness and we delivered.”