Itec has introduced Sentry, a remote multifunctional product (MFP) management solution designed for companies that want to reduce their document output device downtime and improve office productivity. What makes this solution different is that it integrates directly into Itec’s ERP system – a first in the office automation industry in South Africa – enabling the entire device fault management process to be automated, greatly improving service levels.

“Many companies run expansive fleets of document output devices and struggle to stay on top of the service and maintenance of this infrastructure,” says John Buchanan, national technical manager at Itec Distribution. “Running out of toner or paper, or having a centralised MFP break down can cost them many hours of lost productivity. Indeed, printer downtime takes up between 30-40% of all helpdesk calls in the average enterprise. Sentry was designed to help change all that.”
For example, the Sentry solution automatically generates emails at the breakdown of a particular device, enabling technicians to diagnose the likely cause of the breakdown remotely so that they arrive at the customer site with the right spares to repair the fault. This speeds up response times and increases first call resolution across all output devices including printers, copiers, and MFPs.
“In the past, a faulty MFP might have stood idle for days as users walked past to the next printer or copier believing that someone else would report the fault,” says  Buchanan. “Then, when a technician finally arrived to look at the machine, he might discover that he doesn’t have the spares necessary for repairs with him. Our Sentry solution eliminates these problems, allowing faulty devices to be fixed in a much shorter timeframe.”  
The solution also allows consumables to be monitored, ensuring that workflow won’t be interrupted by a device unexpectedly running out of toner, for example. It can be configured to regularly check meter readings and transmit numbers for accurate invoicing.
By reflecting accurate print and page volumes by paper size, Sentry will help companies to understand and better manage paper and toner usage so that they can eliminate wastage. This allows employees to focus on their jobs rather than on managing document output devices.
There is no leakage of sensitive data since the solution only accesses the MFP memory without intruding on images or hard drive data. The Sentry solution securely communicates with Itec using a range of possible communications media – it can run off the client’s network or on an independent cellular connection, depending on the client’s security requirements.
However, what truly sets this solution apart is its ability to integrate customer service incidents directly into the Itec ERP system, automating the entire chain of business processes and eliminating the need for human intervention. This is where major efficiency gains are to be made as the company can respond even faster and more accurately to customers’ service requirements. Itec is the only company in South Africa and only one of a handful world wide to offer a remote MFP management solution that integrates directly into its ERP system.
And in line with the move to mobile solutions, the next phase of development will automate the deployment of technicians to customer sites so that it can offer immediate turnarounds to customers that cannot afford downtime.
“Although printing vendors and distributors have been working towards an application of this nature for years, it is only now that the network technology, devices and software are all mature enough to support the solution. With Sentry, we aim to ensure smooth workflow for busy offices, with less disruptive downtime and fewer administrative distractions,” concludes Buchanan.