Nov (11-03) - Inventory conundrum

November 12, 2003 Editorial

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Some industry leaders have been attempting to start a new trade association to represent the dealer community in this new age. A grass roots effort to re-create a lower-cost industry trade group is heartening as the industry emerges from the consolidation of the past two or three years. It will, hopefully, enforce good-trade policies and a restrictive high-jump bar in order to gain admission. I look forward to its success.

The conundrum of inventory.

Most resellers would find it difficult to keep both sanity and inventory! With price points constantly changing and users always in a panic to buy the "latest", on-hand inventory seems like fresh fish. My view of the reality on the street is quite different, though. Granted, the market that I'm in is somewhat unique. Printers, unlike most commercial computing equipment, hold their value quite well. In fact, many of the older printers are actually more durable and much less expensive to operate that most current models. The dilemma is as follows:
1) In order to offer my customers a high level of quality and consistency of availability and quality, we have to have inventory on the shelf: either already finished and ready, or waiting to be work-ordered.
2) If we wait until we need it, then quality will suffer and/or costs will go up.
3) If we hold inventory, then we are vulnerable to market deterioration.

So what do we do? We choose to hold inventory and take our chances with market conditions based on experience. In the coming months, as the economy begins to turn around, demand will make inventory very important. I expect prices to firm up and demand to outpace supplies of many models.

From Last Month:
1) A rush to replace band printers with the newer shuttle matrix printers (Printronix based IBM 6400 family, Genicom 5100, family, Tally T6xxx family). For an overview see:

But be careful what you wish for:

  • They will cost up to each at retail.
  • They will be cheaper to maintain.
  • They are less durable than what they replaced
  • They do not offer a channel attachment option
  • They have a significantly shorter life
  • They are not as fast.
2) A devil-may-care attitude until the market realizes the dearth of print bands.
  • Prices will rise as used printbands become popular.
3) Moves toward laser printers, both cut-sheet and continuous forms devices.
  • Long reports will become very cumbersome to deal with
  • Printing costs will skyrocket as compared to impact
Sweet spots:
IBM 3151, 3472, 3482, 3486, 3487, 3488 terminals - and please check out the CLI et1500, et2000, et3000, and et5000 lines or the I/O TC4000.
IBM 3900-0W1 Venerable printer can be upgraded to the 4000 series.
IBM 4224-101, 201 - you can add internal ethernet to these and they last forever.
IBM 4230-201,1s2, 202, 5s3, 5i3 - (check out the internal ethernet for the 4230 family)
IBM 4317-001 yes, we have Ethernets
IBM 4320-001's. -- 18) left from that big package (yes, we have Ethernets)
IBM 6262- all models
IBM 6400-010, -012, -015 Units sitting with most features.
IBM 4516 (1116) -- sweet 16ppm
IBM 4247-A00 NEW in box at refurbished prices
IBM 4247-001 NEW in box with coax and parallel.
Lexmark Optra T520 significant quantity expected.
Lexmark Optra T610n, T612n, T614n, T616n, T620n - We have some GREAT machines
Lexmark Optra 1855s over 90 pieces sitting (most with ethernet)
Lexmark Optra 1255s 25 pieces sitting (most with ethernet)
Lexmark Optra 310 -- 8ppm desktop lasers. Cute!
Lexmark Multifunction laser printers. They are really quite impressive but unworthy of the staggering list prices attached to them by both Lexmark and IBM. The HP versions are even more overpriced. Ours, of course, are very inexpensive. Long live the secondary market!!
Printek 4503 Great metal printer with multi-tractors for multiple forms
Tally T6050 170 pieces 500LPM with internal ethernet... A home run.

IBM 3153-BGx terminals
IBM 4230 twinax
IBM 4224-1e3 twinax

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