Cartridge King, a local toner assembly and manufacturing private limited company, announced that it will further expand its already operational toner assembling factory to include ink and ribbon cartridges in the upcoming months.
Currently Cartridge King’s primary focus has been on the “New Assembly” and the “Remanufacturing” aspect of cartridges for laser printers.
When people in Addis Ababa think of local cartridge companies they instantly think of the “Drill-and-fill” operations that exist across the country, however, Cartridge King says it has set a new standard with their state-of-the-art facility to assemble new or completely remanufacture “virgin cartridges”.
“The difference between these two operations is huge: drill-and-fill has been the current trend in Addis, where a hole is drilled into the side of the cartridge and a small quantity of powder or ink is inserted into the container, and then sold to the customer,” says Jazir Teja, Managing Director of Cartridge King Company.
Cartridge King however is a full scale operation where every single “virgin” cartridge is inspected for quality, completely disassembled and replaced with new imported components. This prevents the cartridge from leaking or having parts failing mid-cycle.
The remanufactured cartridges have the same 100pct manufacturers’ warranty as the newly assembled cartridges; because essentially all that is kept from the collected cartridge is the hard plastic shell.
Currently, they have the capacity and machinery to produce 15,000 toner cartridges, 5,000 ink cartridges and 2,000 ribbon cartridges per month. With plans to establish themselves as the strong and reliable brand in Ethiopia, each cartridge that gets branded as Cartridge King must meet specific quality standards before being sold into the market.
Toner cartridges are the standard items that are currently being used in the larger Laser printers while Ribbon cartridges, although a bit outdated are being used by airlines and banks. The ink cartridges are most often used in smaller offices, by students and in the home, as the printer and the ink are a cheaper version of the bigger laser printers.
The company also aims to get into the export market, planning to ship at least 50% of their increased production over time. So far the company says it has interested parties in Sudan, Tanzania, and Kenya where it will start exporting to once it establishes itself in the local market.
The eventual goal of the company is to become an East African brand.
They also say since demand is much larger than production capacity, it plans to double its production on the current facility over time. The company already has sufficient space for expansion in the 800 sqm factory located in Kera area, Addis Ababa.
Cartridge King’s factory was originally located in a rural area 42 km from Addis, but as the distance and the bulky nature of the cartridges made transportation expensive, it was eventually decided to relocate to a more central property in Addis Ababa.
From their new location, they are able to deliver with their electric motorcycles to most offices in the Addis Ababa area at a lower price in addition to upholding their ‘green’ approach.
Being one of the first assemblers and re-manufacturers of cartridges in Ethiopia, Cartridge King has faced challenges due to the lack of understanding by customs and revenue authority for ongoing importation of relevant raw materials, it says.
This had resulted in the company being charged, in some cases, up to 35 percent duty on components which is more than the duty on finished products; making local manufacturing less viable than importing finished goods despite the jobs created, foreign currency savings and other associated benefits.
Jazir said although they had initially planned to invest about 30 million birr, the incurring high costs due to importation duties, and unusually high duties on components discouraged them as the estimated investment amount could reach as much as 40 million birr. In addition, Cartridge King employs 53 full time staff.
Toner Assembly and Manufacturing P.L.C says it’s working hard to explain to the relevant authorities the process so they can pay the correct duty price which will reduce manufacturing costs, and will ultimately transfer the savings to the customers.
“Price is such an important factor for many businesses but it should not come at the cost of the performance of the cartridge. There are many other companies that offer cheap cartridges, but these drill-and-fill and/or fake cartridges sellers, leave the customer unhappy with the print quality and yield,” Jazir added.
The company uses precision filling machines to fill the cartridges, avoiding human error and making sure each cartridge prints as many pages or even more than OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
Price consideration is not the only focus of the company. Traditionally what happens is either they’re thrown into landfills but the hard plastic does not rot or decompose for hundreds of years.
Cartridge King states that ‘Other’ companies who are tired of being conned by sellers of fake cartridges in OEM boxes or poorly refilled cartridges actually set fire to them so they cannot be introduced in the market again.
The plastic and chemicals when burnt release dangerous pollution into the air, and this should be avoided.
The company ensures these unusable cartridges are broken down and the plastic parts recycled by companies in Ethiopia and neighboring countries if the facility is not available in the country. The project proposal and practices have been approved by both the Addis Ababa City Government and Federal Environmental Protection authority.
Toner Assembly and Manufacturing PLC (Cartridge King) was established over two years ago with support from the Dutch Government, as the first cartridge manufacturing company in Ethiopia.