Quality test by CRRA.

A Step towards the Customer

By Jindrich Mach - President of the Czech Republic Recyclers' Association

The formulations of any association's objectives often tend to be stuck with slogans and complicated statements, meant to describe the aspects of the relevant business field. It seems that there is no easier or different way for a professional organization to get started. On the other hand, let us not forget that somewhere in the unstable market space, our customers are to be found. They are often equipped with fragmentary information or even have no information at all about the procedure in the manufacturing of the product they are about to buy. And it is not only the procedure of the manufacturing that is important (effective production, profitable sales, strengthening market positions, etc.), but also the procedure of their competitors, who take part in the establishment of market price levels, discover more effective trading methods, provide a wider range and higher-quality services so that the product can win the end user's trust. To make things even more complicated, let us also mention another market player - the professional organizations or associations, whose goal is to differentiate the product quality from the marketing quality, and the false advertisements from the real information.

The main objective of the Czech Republic Recyclers' Association is to plot, or rather measure, the recycled cartridges market in the Czech Republic. This idea was provoked by the lack of solid and objective sources regarding the problematic issues of this young market. We do not know the answers to a lot of questions; for example: What is the number of employees engaged in the initial manufacturing processes?; How many people work in the distribution sector?; How many recycling companies are there in the Czech Republic?; What is the range of products they are able to service (recycle)?; How many cartridges are recycled monthly?; How many cartridges are imported and exported?; and What is the quality of those cartridges?

That's why, our vital priority is to find the answers of these questions in the coming months or years. During the INVEX 2005 Expo, held in Brno, we've tried to point out the basic tendencies in the cartridge recycling industry, as well as to gather substantial information providing a general notion of the quality of recycled cartridges on the Czech Republic market. We decided to select a common cartridge model, which then was submitted to various manufacturers to recycle and benchmark. After that we compared the results. In order to put the whole project in motion, we had to have equipment that would be good enough to support all tests from the technical point of view. The responsibility for this equipment and the testing processes was carried out by the Chemical-technological Faculty of the University in Pardubice. To make sure that the comparative tests are fully objective, our Association provided the researchers with a brand new printer and did its best to make an anonymous purchase of as many recycled cartridges of the same model as possible. The selected printer model was HP LaserJet 1010 which was supplied with the Q2612A cartridge.

The Association also determined the rules, according to which the test results would be evaluated, in order to establish the base of a specific quality evaluation standard called "Price per Quality Point".

Table 1

Table 2

The criteria is above Table 1. The Technical characteristics displayed in Table 2 were measured at the University of Pardubice. Besides the technical characteristics, we also observed all marketing, trading and ecological characteristics, which play a significant role in the recycling techniques information flow presented to the customer. The latter were evaluated by the staff of the Association. The evaluation results are specified in Table 3a and Table 3b.

Table 3a

Table 3b

Below, the evaluation results by manufacturers is posted.

Those participants, who were kept informed about the results of the tests, did not often hide their surprise - how is it possible that we've been ranked at position x?, How is it that the company ABC has scored better? There is no doubt that one starts contemplating - and how precisely have you tested all this, why have you selected this particular criteria; why have you chosen this particular cartridge; why haven't you included this or that manufacturer in the test?

This only comes to prove how subjective the impressions of today's customer can be, and how easy it is for the larger manufacturers to disorientate them.

Graph 1

The technical quality gives details about the level of proficiency with which the manufacturer has done its job. Our market has never undergone such a comparative test before.

Although the possibilities of our association are limited, we are determined to continue with the tests in order to create an extensive database of tested products and manufacturers.

Graph 2

This result comes closest to the customer's point of view. How much do I pay for the price/quality ratio of the product I have chosen with each manufacturer?

We have found out that quite a large amount of manufacturers are interested in letting their products be tested; they need to have their competitive marketing visible and successful. As we are trying to create the clearest possible picture of the current market in the Czech Republic, we need to continue carrying out quality tests with constant regularity. Only this way will our association be helpful to the customers. At the same time, manufacturers will be able to follow the market itinerary; their products will show benefits in terms of time saved and profit results. The test results show them whether the production procedure they use are efficient and successful. That is how the Czech Republic Recyclers' Association has made another step towards getting closer to the customers.

From RechargEast Magazine, December 2005
facts & opinions (page 44)