Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Copy Machines and Printing

Over the last year administration and the technology department conducted a review of the district copy and printing services and costs. The review process reveled some issues that needed to be resolved.

Image for kyocera copierFirst, the per print cost was excessively high at 2.2656 cents per print. As a point of perspective, Office Depot charges 2.2 cents per print and that includes the cost of the paper. Second, much of the copier and printer fleet was old and in poor condition. Most copiers were 5 years old with some over 10 years old. Printers typically ranged from 5 years to 15 years old. Third, the lease agreements did not break out the cost of the machines and maintenance. Everything was lumped into the single per print charge. The lease agreements were also arranged to require a perpetual renewal of the entire lease agreement to replace failing equipment. It was noted that each renewal increased the per print cost and extended the lease an additional 5 years. The final observation of the review was the lack of print accountability.

The school district was printing and coping over 10 million pages a year at a cost of well over $200,000 per year and no accountability. This was a business practice that needed to be corrected and an opportunity to save money.

During the summer a RFP was release seeking proposals for upgrading our copy and print services. The district was looking for a number of goals to be addressed in the proposals. These included:
  1. Updating existing copy and print equipment
  2. Move copy capability closer to the classroom
  3. Improving student printing capacity
  4. Reduce costs, print waste 
  5. Reduce the copier/printer footprint (from over 200 devices to 90 devices)
The proposals were to include the full cost of equipment and cover the cost of maintenance for the first 33 million copies which would be 3 years or more.

Proposals were submitted by 8 different companies and after careful review 3 were selected to return for interviews and demonstrations. It was determined that AB Dick's proposal best met the goals and provided the best value to the school district.

The final solution put 90 new Kyocera Multi Function Printers (MFP's) throughout the district and removed most of the existing copier and printer fleet. Implement Papercut on all new MFP's to provide accounting functions.

Some improved features include:
  • Find-Me-Printing (print to a single print queue and retrieve the job from any MFP)
  • Integration with Google Apps
    • Automatic scanning to your G-Mail account
    • Scanning directly to your Google Drive
    • Printing directly from your Google Drive
  • Color coping available in all buildings
  • Scan to or print from a USB drive
  • Simple card swipe to logon to any MFP (students use their Student ID)
The new copiers were deployed over a three week period in October. For the most part the deployment went according to schedule.

While there are many positives to this project it also has its share of difficulties. Pushing the new print driver to Mac computers was not reliable. Many computers required manual intervention by the technology department. Proper authentication is required for printing. A number of staff were not logging onto the correct wireless connection for proper authentication. In some cases the access card ID did not match what we had in the system. Some staff did not have an access card.

There are also challenges with student printing. Students also have to be authenticated correctly to print. There were some of the same issues regarding missing or incorrect student ID numbers. In the high school labs students were using a generic login account on the computers. These computers needed to be prepared so students could logon with their network account. This was new for many students which required training. Many students did not know their network password so that had to be reset. I know these lists are not all inclusive of the problems people have experienced.

Some of these issues would be difficult to anticipate, however, the technology department could have reduced the number of issues through better planning and implementation. Change is often challenging, some see it as inconvenient, and for some down right terrifying. However, change is sometimes necessary to stay up-to-date, improve processes and inefficiencies, and reduce operating costs.

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