Saving money, saving the planet – one page at a time

The whole concept of the ‘paperless office’ may have proven to be unattainable.

September 3, 2012

By Tyrone Malan, Lexmark Product Specialist at Drive Control Corporation

The whole concept of the ‘paperless office’ may have proven to be unattainable, as so much of our daily business documentation still needs to be printed and filed for legal, accounting and regulatory purposes. However, the concept of reducing the number of documents remains relevant, especially in light of turbulent economic times which necessitate cost cutting and leaner business practices along with an increasingly eco-conscious world.

The reality is that the less is printed, the more money is saved. However people are still the biggest barrier in reducing printing consumption. This is where clever technology comes to the fore as a failsafe way of curbing people’s wasteful printing habits, helping organisations to save money and save the planet, one less printed page at a time.

In a world where cost is everything and we are bombarded with messages about recycling, preventing waste and reducing carbon footprint, it seems counterintuitive to be unaware of exactly how much is being spent, and wasted, where. Yet this is exactly the case in many companies when it comes to printing. Not only are many organisations unaware of how much is spent on printing, the employees are also guilty of printing unnecessarily, forgetting documents that they sent to the printer, and throwing away countless printouts every day.

One simple solution to reducing the number of pages printed and wasted is to enforce automatic duplex, or double sided, printing. Most modern multifunction printers offer this feature, which ensures that both sides of paper are used, effectively halving the number of pages needed to print any given document. This setting can be easily configured by IT administration and applied to every user account as a default setting, with the option for manual override should single sided printing be necessary.

Another technology feature that helps to prevent wastage is the secure print function. When a user queues a document for printing, they will have to physically walk up to the machine and either enter a code or swipe a tag in order to release the print job. If the print job is not released within a specified period of time it will be deleted from the printer system memory. Although this feature was designed to ensure that confidential documents did not fall into the wrong hands, it has the side benefit of also deterring wastage. It prevents that all too common scenario of people forgetting about their print job or throwing away documents found in the tray that do not belong to them.

While colour printing capability is necessary on occasion, it is also expensive due to the cost of colour toner. Added to this, not every employee needs to be able to print high quality, full colour documents. For this reason there are two separate settings that can be activated to optimise printing without the need for multiple print devices.

Colour lock capability enables IT admin to set permissions for colour printing, giving users who need it access and only allowing monochrome printing for those who do not. Proof read functionality also allows for the printing out of low resolution drafts, so that documents that need printing but do not have to be high quality do not waste ink, and so that documents that need to be checked for errors can be printed and checked without wasting ink on high quality printouts.

Aside from activating these technology features on a printer, there are other steps organisations can take in order to ensure optimal printer usage. This includes optimising the device architecture with the help of an expert, who will conduct a site visit and ensure that print technology matches print volumes and that the best technology is being used to optimally meet the needs of users and the organisation as a whole.

Today’s multifunction printers also allow for digital versions of documents to be saved on the device and printed on demand. This is particularly useful for standard forms. Instead of pre-printing stacks of these forms, which may or may not be used and which will have to be destroyed should information change, these forms can be stored on the printer as a digital version that can easily be change, and only printed as and when necessary.

Education is another important aspect of reducing print costs and wastage. Users need to be trained to ensure that they know how to use the different features and print types, such as duplex, draft and high quality resolution and so on. It may not be possible to stop people from printing, but they can use machines more cost effectively by tailoring the quality and method of printing to match various scenarios.

While many organisations remain unaware of the true cost of printing, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to quickly reduce this cost and lessen waste. With economists predicting another recession, and increasing pressure (not to mention legislation) regarding reduced carbon footprint, it is more important than ever to ensure functions such as printing are optimised. By reducing the number of pages printed and ensuring that toner and paper are not wasted, organisations can save money, and help to save the planet, one page at a time.

For more information, visit DCC at www.drivecon.net or contact:

Drive Control Corporation

Tyrone Malan

Lexmark Product Specialist

Tel: 011-201-8927

Email: [email protected]