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When the Training Wheels Come Off

Where To Go For Help When the Instructor Leaves

by Thomas Franklin

Part 4 of a 4-part exclusive online series

Everyone remembers the day when the training wheels came off the bicycle and you were free to race out ahead of your anxious parents. Seventeen stitches later, you appreciate the fact that mom and dad continued to offer their steadying hand until your skills improved. Wide format printer makers and their dealers will similarly continue to offer a helping hand after your formal training is complete.

"People are usually overwhelmed right after you install a machine and they just nod their head to everything youíre telling them and forget a few days later," says Tony Miller, product manager, Technical Services, Roland. "Itís natural, in all the excitement."

After installation, youíll be left with a very massive instruction binder on how to operate your printer and some basic trouble shooting tips. Many vendors also include a basic operational video on DVD. If you elected to take a training course, you will be sent home with all the course material, most likely in another sizeable binder, and your own notes.

Inevitably over the course of the printerís life youíll have additional questions. Your first point of contact is your dealer. The availability and responsiveness of individual dealers will vary, naturally, but most are equipped to handle questions concerning basic printer operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. If your dealer canít help or is unresponsive, you can reach out to the manufacturer directly.

How you choose to connect with your manufacturer depends in part on the manufacturer themselves and your temperament. If youíre comfortable online, many vendors have very extensive online support such as documents, instructional videos, owners manuals, drivers, and troubleshooting tips prominently on their product support pages. Depending on the manufacturer, these online resources are frequently updated, with the update date displayed so you know how current the information really is.

"Most of the phone calls we receive could be answered online," says Kirk Levis, director of education management, Oce. He adds that the company constantly monitors help line calls to update its online Frequently Asked Questions and support guides.

HP offers a series of what Sandy Gramly, Designjet Category business manager describes as "application cook books." These are step-by-step guides for various applications using the companyís equipment.

Others, however, are only now building out their online support. Of course, thereís always the venerable technical support line. Here too, response times and availability vary but vendors are acutely aware that production environments demand timely responses. Some companies, like HP, wrap free phone support into their warranties. Once the warranty expires, youíll pay per incident. Other companies, like Roland, offer free phone support after youíve attempted to resolve the issue with your dealer.

One of the keys to minimizing the amount of post-training head scratching is to train multiple people and to ensure that those you are training will stay with your business for the long term, vendors say.

"Training is an investment in human capital," says Frank Tueckmantel, director, VUTEk Training, Education and Events Services, EFI, Inc.

"We encourage companies to send more than one employee to our training courses," says Richard Codos, executive director, North American Development for LP Digital Technologies, Inc.

Look for a full feature article on Wide Format Training in the December issue of Digital Output.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Back to School
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Training Day
Click here to read Part 3 of this exclusive online series, Learning Curves

Nov2006, Digital Output

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