Restaurant Pagers

December 29, 2010

For a few years we’ve had Command Communications’ guest & staff pagers up on our site. I’m sure by now you all have a solid idea of these systems; rather than cramming around a restaurant’s host podium waiting for your name to be called, you get a glowy coaster thing that vibrates & otherwise freaks out to let you know your table is ready. It’s a tremendous product and has all but eliminated hearing “Dufresne, party of 3” over & over again at your favorite eatery.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to stock Command Communications pagers for a few months and it’s been a real bummer. Customers would call in excited to get pagers, only to be turned away. Well not anymore, we’ve made friends with Long Range Systems and are now carrying their brand of pagers.

LRS, according to their site, are the first company to really create the restaurant and server pager market, so they’ve got quite a strong product catalog. Their transmitters can work with both staff and guest pagers, are portable, and one can even send customers text messages that their table is ready.

They’ve also moved into unique designs, such as a (rock) lobster and pizza slice. So now you can hang onto a wicked awesome lobster while you wait to be seated, instead of a coaster. Sounds pretty fun to me.

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Star TSP100ECO

December 8, 2010

Everybody wants to go green, minimize their ecological footprint, or just generally build the good feelings acquired from separating the glass from plastics. The real bummer on that last one is if you see the recycling guys throw everything into one bin on the back of the truck. Anyway, retailers and restauranteurs have had a hard time trying to cut waste at their point of sale. PCs are a little more energy efficient, but I’m sure receipt printers are left on overnight or when they’re not needed, so you inadvertently use more electricity.

Star has built the TSP100ECO with conservation in mind, and it sounds like they’ve done quite a lot to get there. They’ve made tweaks to cut energy usage, paper usage, even plastic usage in manufacture, so you can feel good upgrading to these printers and like throwing out the old ones I guess. Right off the bat, they removed the power switch, so instead of employees forgetting to switch it off at night, the printer will turn itself off if the computer it’s attached to is turned off. So boom, there’s some energy savings. Then during the rest of the day, when the printer’s only printing every once in a while, the TSP100ECO switches into a low power mode, so you’re not sapping energy waiting to print. Star claims you can use up to 40% less electricity that comparable receipt printers, which is pretty solid savings.

Next up, paper waste is pretty horrible, right? I mean, it’s not like this stuff grows on trees. (beat pause) Star added some pretty wicked abilities both in the TSP100ECO and in their futurePRNT software, so you can cut your paper usage by up to 70%. I don’t know how much paper people use at businesses. Let’s say a case a month, so 50 rolls burned through. You go through all of Star’s tweaks and you could cut usage to 15 rolls a month. Twelve cases in a year cut down to about 4. Not only did you just save a tree, but you can use that saved up cash to replace the lightbulbs in the bathroom.

The big tweak is that you can cut the top margin from 11 mm to 3 mm. On a 6-inch (152 mm) average length receipt, you’ll end up saving one whole receipt after 15 prints. Boom. Not tremendous savings, but it’s a start. Receipts can also be shrunk vertically, cutting lengths in half. An even greater savings comes from the TSP100ECO’s ability to print to 58 mm receipts without having to reformat your POS Software to support it. 80 mm is the standard receipt width, so scaling it down you save about 27% on width and up to 50% on length of the receipt. Granted, you have to switch over to the smaller format, but all the converting is done in the futurePRNT driver so it’s not too big a task.

Say you run a donut shop, or maybe a smoke shop or something, a place where customers may purchase one item with cash and don’t really need historical transcript of the transaction. Unless they want to file the receipt under D, for donut. Or delicious. futurePRNT can prompt your employees if they need to print the receipt, so it saves a digital copy of the receipt for your records, and the customer doesn’t get extra paper with their apple fritter. Apple fritters, by the way, are the premier baked good.

And finally, Star is creating the plastic shell out of halogen-free recycled plastic. So no PCBs or PFCs or other gross plastics that are toxic or bioaccumulate in people. Bioaccumulate sounds pretty nasty.

I’ve seen the TSP100ECO in use at a couple local restaurants, and I haven’t noticed any dip in performance, which is great. Receipts print out at about 6″ per second, which isn’t really the fastest on the market right now but it blows impact printing out of the water. I’d definitely recommend this to businesses looking to buy a new receipt printer. It’s a double whammy of ecological and economical savings, how can you go wrong?

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