2004-01-17 at 9:25:00 am #4713
“Words, words, words” (Hamlet.)
In Shakespeare’s day they had words for things and I’m sure they got them mixed up sometimes. Some things never change no matter how much everything else changes. Blacksmiths probably got their orders mixed up and mistakenly made up kitchen knives instead of daggers or made swords instead of broadswords if someone wasn’t careful with language.
For all the years that I have been in this business (31, so far) I have always gotten a kick out of the mixed-up terminology (or is it nomenclature?) that we use.
A pickup line?
Let’s start at the beginning: Paper pickup. Or is it paper feed? Or is it primary feed? If you are trying to communicate with someone about the machine, you might have a problem if you don’t agree on what to call it. What you call a “feed roller” might be listed in his service manual as a feed roller, but might be in the transport section. You might be asking about the roller that picks paper out of the cassette, which many would call a “pickup roller.” Of course, some are not really rollers, since they are only half-round. You might still call them feed rollers or pickup rollers, but the service manual might call them half-moon rollers, half-round rollers or crescent rollers. But then, they may not even identify the rollers. They might just refer to a “paper feed assembly,” “paper pickup assembly,” “feed roller assembly,” or “feed assembly.” I don’t know any service manual that describes them as “primary feed rollers,” but you would think they might, since they sometimes refer to the next roller as the “secondary feed” roller. How can you have a secondary if you don’t have a primary?
Whoops. Did I mention cassette? Not everyone uses the term “cassette.” More and more, the section of a machine that holds paper that is about to be fed is referred to by other names. Since they slide out to the front, they are often called drawers. That makes sense. Some call them trays. That’s okay, except that the catch trays that paper lands in or rests on are already called trays. Some are at the exit of the machine, and we foolishly call them “exit tray,” not knowing that the manufacturer has named them “copy tray,” or maybe even “copy tray 1,” and “copy tray 2,” and that was before Dr. Seuss got involved with Mike Meyers, who you had better not confuse with the other Michael Meyers (the Halloween guy!)
Rollers, rollers and more rollers
The secondary roller is better known as the registration roller, because that is where registration takes place. We call it registration, but I have no idea why. The act of aligning the image with the paper has no relation to any of the definitions of “registration” in two different dictionaries that I checked.
Paper stops when it gets to the registration roller, so at least one manufacturer calls it the “paper stopper roller.” It only stops for a little while and then it starts again, so I guess they could have called it the “paper starter roller.” Of course that wouldn’t have made a lot of sense, but how much does? They did, for a while, call that roller the “wait” roller. Since paper does get there, stop, and then start, that really would have made sense. I guess it got there and waited. But there is one catch that undoes this logic. In some of their manuals this same manufacturer describes the roller as the “weight” roller. In some of those machines the roller, rather than being rubber was heavy steel, so maybe that made sense after all.
Lamps, lights, LEDs and maybe even a Bud Light!
My next favorite terminology has to do with lamps. Lamps have evolved into light sources, but that is legitimate, not just words. Some machines use LEDs to illuminate. But there is still fun to be had with lighting terminology. In their analog copiers, Mita used to always refer to the quartz-halogen fuser lamp as the heat lamp, which made sense. They always referred to the quartz-halogen exposure lamp as the “halogen lamp.”
Drums have to get cleaned before they can make a second image. If we don’t discharge the first image, some of it will remain to interfere with the next image, whether it is a copy, fax or print. So, we have cleaning lamps, which discharge the drum. But why can’t everyone call them cleaning lamps? They are known as cleaning lamps, pre-cleaning lamps, quenching lamps (as if the drum were being bathed I suppose,) discharge lamps, overall exposure lamps, erase lamps, erasure lamps and probably other names that I’ve forgotten. I think my favorite lamp description was by a technician who called in an order for an “erosion lamp.” I do remember a copier that was used as a doorstop to hold open a gate for the cows (I’m not making this up; I remember the conversation.) So, maybe a copier could be used in a farmer’s field to prevent the soil from washing away, and that would somehow tie the quenching and erosion together, wouldn’t it?
Names, names, names
We don’t even know what to call machines anymore. Since they are multi-functional (and sometimes dysfunctional,) manufacturers are afraid to call them copiers, printers or faxes. They have to call them things like “imagers” or “image runners.” I was at a trade show when a sales rep kept talking about the “marking engine.” I finally had to interrupt him and ask him what the hell he was talking about! He explained that any piece of equipment that can put anything on paper (copy, print, fax, picture, color, whatever,) is now called a “Marking Engine,” since it marks the paper.
It’s funny, it really is. But seriously folks, terminology should be standardized. It won’t be, but it should be. In 1905, the less-than-10-year-old automotive industry engineers formed the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to standardize many engineering terms and methods for the automotive industry. We have no such thing for the office machine industry, which has been around even longer.
When you need something or need to communicate with someone, you need to be sure that you are not confusing each other. If you want a paper tray, be sure you specify exactly where it is, what it is, what it does. If you need a lamp, you better know exactly which one. Don’t count on your suppliers to figure things out for you. In many cases, those who sell or distribute parts are not technicians, and they don’t have time to learn what you know. If you want to avoid getting the wrong part, it is up to you to be sure that you make it crystal clear.