Think Twice About The Receipt Printer You Choose For Kiosk Applications
Kiosks are quickly becoming a demanded solution for several applications - from ticket sales to coin machines in supermarkets. As an OEM, it is up to you to select the right receipt printer for the job and keep it productive.
What do you look for when selecting a receipt printer for a kiosk application? Do you just pick any one, and demean the important role a receipt printer provides? If you do, you should reconsider your approach. You have to recognize the model of receipt printer needed depends on the application it will be used in.
Receipt Printer Paper, Motor Size Drive Successful Kiosk Apps
In an unattended kiosk, a successful printer will have the ability to drive more paper. "In this situation, there is no one around to walk over every few hours to see if it is out of paper. So you need the right number of volts and control boards to handle a larger load," says Bob Falco, director of sales and marketing at Seiko Instruments USA Inc., Micro Printer Division (Torrance, CA). To drive that large paper roll, the power of the motor must be considered. "The motor must be strong enough to pull the paper off of the roll. You must convince the customer that without a large enough motor engine, the paper will not be pulled properly," says Andrew Golden, senior director of sales and marketing at Citizen CBM America Corp. (Torrance, CA).
It is obvious that paper for a kiosk does not come in one size fits all. Since kiosks are widely used for different applications in many vertical markets, the size of paper required varies. "If it is purely a receipt for a financial transaction, the requirements are straightforward. A 2.25-inch [60 mm] paper width will be sufficient if all you need to do is read the credit card number, the amount charged, and the item identification number," says Terry Cooper, OEM sales manager at Telpar (Dallas). If your application requires more information to be translated onto a receipt, a 4-inch (112 mm) paper width may be necessary. "If the kiosk is located in a hotel, the receipt must contain information pertaining to purchases during a patron's stay. Such as movie purchases, restaurant and room service bills, and phone calls. A 3-inch piece of paper could not accommodate this detailed information" says Christophe Naasz, business development manager at Star Micronics America, Inc. (Edison, NJ). A 4-inch paper width could also be used for map or graphic information.
Put Receipt Printers First, Enclosures Second
OEMs often put off printer considerations until the last stage of the process, says Falco. By that time it is too late to get the job done right. "When a receipt printer is not considered in the design of the kiosks, the OEM is forced to put the printer in whatever space they can find in the enclosure. Then the paper has to be fed across an inappropriate path through the printer and out of the kiosk," says Falco. This paper path lends itself to service calls for the OEM.
Even if you think about the receipt printer at the beginning of the project, Cooper says some OEMs focus on price too much. "Scrimping on cost and sacrificing quality in the selection of their most important marketing tool, the receipt printer, is some OEMs' biggest mistake," says Cooper. Naasz agrees that an OEM's demise is often their focus on the price tag. "Because OEMs want to keep the cost of kiosks down, they downgrade the printer side of it," says Naasz. "In an unattended kiosk application, the receipt printer must be more reliable than a standard printer. For example, the paper roll has to be bigger and it needs to be paper-jam resistant," says Naasz. A standard house printer may be cheaper, but in the long run you'll be paying in problems and service calls.
Internet Monitoring Reduces Costly Kiosk Service Calls
Staying competitive in the receipt-printer-for-kiosks market may soon lead you down the path of Internet monitoring. If you are planning on rolling out large kiosk applications, monitoring your receipt printers from the Web could help you avoid service calls. "The Internet is something people should take more seriously, especially for unattended kiosk applications," says Naasz. Using Internet monitoring, you can check on the status on any printer regardless of physical distance. This is made possible through an IP (Internet Protocol) address that is assigned to each individual printer. Using this IP address, you can go to the Web site of that printer, modify its set-up, restart it, and check the paper status. This will help you in determining the next time the printer will need maintenance. Also, when there is a problem, the printer will automatically send an e-mail or page through the Internet connection to the appropriate individual who needs to take the service call. This reduces labor expenses, especially if a problem can be corrected before it results in downtime and additional service. Some companies are already taking advantage of the remote monitoring feature. For instance, kiosk manufacturer Pixel Touch (Ontario, CA) is monitoring about 8,000 kiosks country wide via the Internet.
As the kiosk market continues to grow, opportunities are beginning to flourish. Keep in mind, the receipt printer should not be an afterthought of your implementation, only a valuable component that if chosen properly could save you time, labor, and ultimately money.