Answer to: A “Why” Puzzle

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So: why are there braille pads on the drive-up ATM?

Part of the answer has to do with law: all ATMs have to be handicap accessible. And though the legal issues here are interesting, the real reason has more to do with economies of scale.

There are thousands of ATMs across the country, and probably close to a million buttons. It is cheaper to produce one million of one kind of button set than it is to produce half a million of one set and half a million of another.

The general idea is this: starting to do something new takes time and money. When producing anything, from toasters to tea-cups, much of the cost associated with the item comes from things like design costs, set-up costs, and quality control. So, every time a change is made in a process, the change costs money. Fewer changes, less money wasted.

This is why Johnson & Johnson can make a killing selling band-aides with a 1% margin. They manufacture truck-loads of band-aides every month, keeping their cost per band-aid way down. But, by producing so many band-aides, they can still make enough profit to pay their marketing team and foot the bill for a trip to Bermuda.

But the most obvious place where we see economies of scale is in the print industry. Printing (especially offset printing) has a lot of set-up costs involved: pre-press time, plates that need to be burned, waste paper and ink used for color matching, etc. Though these costs can be quite hefty, they remain the same whether you order 100 pieces or 1000 pieces. Thus, these set-up costs get “spread out” more thinly when you order a larger quantity.

This might seem like a bit of a “Sam’s Club” mentality, but it works– things become cheaper at a larger scale. No think: where can your business or organization “super size” to save money?

We can’t answer this question for you, but we can help with super-sizing your print. Just for reading this answer, we will give you an extra 10% off your next print project with us– just ask about “super sizing” your project.

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