A warehouse worker pulls a label off a Zebra industrial printer.
By Christine Weber | October 05, 2020

If Your Printhead Fails, Work Stops. This is the Best Way to Prevent Both.

Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program makes it easy (and free) to keep your printheads – and, therefore, your printers – working optimally at all times.

I know we’ve talked about this before here on the Your Edge blog, but your printhead’s performance directly impacts the performance of your entire printing solution. If you aren’t using the right printhead for your printer or your printhead is worn down, it will be almost impossible to produce quality and readable supplies. The ripple effect that poor label quality can have on your operations can be quite extensive. For example:

  • You, your partners and customers could all lose visibility into inventory and shipped goods as they move through facilities and the supply chain.
  • You could be fined for non-compliance with labeling requirements.
  • Inventory management and billing accuracy can be compromised if you aren’t able to verify inbound, outbound or on-hand inventory.
  • Your workers will have to constantly reprint labels, (after they troubleshoot to confirm what’s causing the quality issues), which eats into your revenue and reduces productivity.
  • Label printing delays (or reprints) lead to shipping delays, which leads to delivery delays and unhappy customers.

So, even though your printhead may be out of sight most of the time, it should always be top of mind.

Of course, I know that can be easier said than done. It takes a lot of effort to maintain a single printing solution. If you use multiple printers across multiple sites, the routing monitoring and maintenance can become burdensome – especially if you’re not using the right supplies.

As my colleague Craig Swanson explained in depth in this blog post, using low quality or incorrectly manufactured supplies will degrade the quality of your printed labels. Likewise, if you’re not properly caring for your printheads or you’re using the wrong ribbons, inlays or labels for your printer or labeling application, your printheads are going to wear down prematurely and possibly fail completely. In turn, you’ll spend a lot of unnecessary money and time on replacements, and workflows will be disrupted until the printhead can be replaced and printer operations restored.

That’s why we always recommend that customers use Zebra Certified Supplies exclusively. For the past 30+ years, Zebra’s research and design (R&D) team has selected, converted and rigorously tested all media offered in the Zebra Certified Supplies catalog to ensure they meet the highest quality standards and do not cause excessive wear to the printhead. We never substitute raw materials, either, so the quality of Zebra Certified Supplies remains consistent every time you reorder. We are committed to ensuring your Zebra printers produce the quality labels you need to keep your workers productive and your customers happy.

We’ve even gone so far as to offer free printhead replacements to all customers who exclusively use Zebra Certified Supplies in their Zebra desktop and industrial printers! Yes, you read that right. If you commit to buying/using only Zebra Certified Supplies ordered directly from Zebra or from one of our partners, then there’s no cost whatsoever for replacement printheads for customers eligible for and enrolled in the Printhead Protection Program.

Cool, huh?!

I’m not sure many customers know about Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program, which is why I wanted to share this with you today.

How to Take Advantage of Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program

If you’re based in NALA*, all you have to do is give us your word that you will only use Zebra Certified Supplies in your desktop and industrial printers. You can contact the Zebra Supplies team or a Zebra partner to confirm whether you’re currently eligible to receive free printhead replacements and to quickly enroll in the Zebra Certified Supplies/Printhead Protection Program. We want to ensure you can take full advantage of the volume discounting on supplies and the free printheads as soon as possible.

Just imagine how much money you’ll save on printhead replacements each year – and the time you’ll save verifying that you’re actually receiving genuine OEM printheads! Even better, consider how much time and money Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program will save you when it comes to procuring all of your printing supplies!

You won’t ever have to worry about someone accidentally buying the wrong supplies for your printer or printing application since the only way to take advantage of Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program is to commit to exclusively using Zebra Certified Supplies for your desktop and industrial printers. When you get setup in the program, you’re going to get access to the experts who have spent decades designing, engineering, testing, deploying and configuring the printing solution your business relies on.

Watch these two videos:

We never substitute raw materials, either, so the quality of Zebra Certified Supplies remains consistent every time you reorder. Plus, we always work with you to custom-fit printing solutions – hardware, software and supplies – to every printing application. So, you can be confident that you’re getting exactly what you need from Zebra in order to deliver exactly what your customers expect.

In other words, agreeing to exclusively use Zebra Certified Supplies in order to benefit from the Printhead Protection Program is a win-win…

  • No more waste! Say goodbye to label reprints, supplies re-orders (to get the right ones) and overspending.
  • Fewer settings changes. It’s easy to maintain print quality when you are consistently using supplies built and tested for your printer and labeling applications. And by using the right supplies and extending the life of the printhead, you also reduce the number of times that printheads must be replaced and printer settings must subsequently be adjusted.
  • Less printer downtime! IT and end users no longer have to spend time reading manuals and calling technical support to resolve “printer” issues that are actually related to the printer supplies. Your printer won’t have to be sent in for hands-on diagnostics or servicing as often either.
  • Faster supplies fulfillment! You can get the supplies you need at a moment’s notice using our ZipShip™ service.
  • Longer lifecycle for all printing solution components! The printer, printhead, ribbon, inlays and media will work harmoniously together to produce high quality labels for an extended period of time.

The Cost of Not Signing Up for the Printhead Protection Program

Did you know you will pay anywhere from three to 10 times more on printing supplies than what you paid for your printer each year? And the printhead is the typically the costliest consumable component of a barcode printer. Replacing just one will set you back several hundred dollars, and most organizations don’t have just one printer. If you have a significant printing/labeling workflow like DHL or Alliance Entertainment, then you could find yourself spending tens of thousands of dollars, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars, each year on printhead replacements alone. (Even well-maintained printheads will eventually reach end of life and need to be swapped out.)

Alliance Entertainment, a wholesaler and direct-to-consumer e-commerce seller of music, movies and consumer electronics, estimates that it was paying $80,000-90,000 each year to replace 120 printheads in its 660,000-square-foot distribution center in Shepherdsville, KY. Every single dollar was recouped once it signed up for Zebra’s Printhead Protection Program.

DHL Supply Chain, the world’s largest logistics specialist, could easily spend over $400,000 each year replacing just one printhead for each of the 900 Zebra printers it uses across its distribution centers. Today, that’s money saved thanks to the free and instant restocking of printheads via the Printhead Protection Program and the additional discounts received by committing to large-volume restocking of Zebra Certified Supplies.

Although the amount that your organization spends on genuine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) printheads may be lower than these two examples, I can tell you that you are still spending far more than you should be if you aren’t enrolled in the Printhead Protection Program.

Don’t believe me? Reach out to a Zebra representative or partner to see how much you can save by exclusively using Zebra Certified Supplies and receiving free printheads in return. I would be surprised if you didn’t save quite a bit more by making the switch to Zebra Certified Supplies today.


Editor’s Note:

Visit our website to learn more about Zebra Certified Supplies, eligibility in the Printhead Protection Program and how to enroll.

*The Printhead Protection Program is only offered in the NALA region as of October 2020, but will soon be available in EMEA as well.

Retail, Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, Healthcare, Hospitality, Public Sector, Warehouse and Distribution,
Christine Weber
Christine Weber

In 2006, Christine Weber joined Zebra Technologies to market thermal printing supplies in North America and Latin America.  During her tenure at Zebra, she has brought supplies to life for enterprises. (There is much more to thermal printing supplies than you think!) 

She has deep knowledge of the wide variety of labeling applications across a wide range of enterprises within Retail, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Transportation & Logistics. She is also well-versed in which supplies materials provide the most reliable performance to enable asset intelligence, including facestock, adhesives and ribbons. Along the way, she has driven the marketing of service agreements, managed and professional services, and software in addition to supplies. 

Today, Ms. Weber is a thermal printing supplies expert and strategic partner to Zebra’s Global Supplies Product Management and Marketing Teams, in addition to the North America sales team, driving the development of the annual go-to-market plans to achieve supplies growth globally.

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