Duty cycle- this tells the maximum number of pages you can print in a given month without risking damage to the printer.
What does this mean?
This means that if you go over this number the machine will break. The machine can stretch itself comfortably to print generously within the range but if you go beyond the range the machine is on borrowed time and will break.
Now how do you keep track… Well most machines have a built in counter that is displayed by the webpage or even by a physical counter on the machine or a digital counter accessible by the display.
Now how do you use this? Well lets say the machine has a duty cycle of 10000 prints a month. What you can do is check the duty cycle of the inks or toners to see if they indeed meet the expectation.
so if your toner is rated at 4000 prints and your machine is rated at 10000 prints a month and your are doing 10000 prints but you are going through 4 toner catrididges… meaning the toner catridges are using 40000 pages then
1. you are using a lot toner on those pages… more than 5% per page
2. or your machine is leaking toner… and needs repair
if your machine is printing 10000 pages per month according to its duty cycle
and it requires maintenance kits at every 50000 pages
then you can calculate how many maintenance kits must be installed before the machine is no longer cost effective.
If your 120000 pages for the year is generating you 2 maintenance kits then its doing well.
If your 120000 pages for the year is generating more than 2 maintenance kits worth of cost. The machine is on its way out.
You can also use the 12 month duty cycle to maintenance cost determine how cost effective a new machine is. You can use this to tell you the maintenance cents per page.
Keep in mind, some machines are super cheap to maintain while others can become very expensive.