Prints charming

You’ll be delighted by the wide-ranging solutions brought by multifunctional printing technology, writes Simon Fry

Despite the relentless rise of screens – on desktops, phones and tablets – there are still many, often unexpected, occasions when the need arises to produce printed materials for pupils, students, staff and parents. A proactive approach to print solutions procurement can ensure preparedness for years to come, as well as significant cost savings and even the chance to positively expose students to the ways of the workplace.

One fascinating case study comes via Ricoh’s work with a UK Catholic independent school, hundreds of years old, co-educational with pupils aged from three to 18 years. It has a mix of day pupils and boarders and alongside 1,200 pupils there are around 200 teaching and support staff.

When the school started accepting boys as well as girls with a separate boys’ division and a co-educational sixth form, pupil recruitment and marketing became a key part of maintaining a strong and thriving school. As well as branded stationery, it also needed a portfolio of high-quality promotional material to give to new and prospective parents.

Multiple benefits

Despite having its own reprographics facility, the school had to find external ways to fulfil advanced print requests. The school researched and understood the many benefits they would enjoy by optimising the reprographics output facility and creating a print-on-demand hub serving everyone more efficiently.

The school’s reprographics manager said of its original print equipment, “If a print job was of particularly high volume, it would have to be outsourced to an external printer. This also applied to any items requiring a glossy finish, professional presentation or any level of colour consistency. Requests for this type of work were increasing, particularly presentation material for parents and for events such as the school’s open morning, music and choir recitals, drama productions and sporting events. I was sure printing in-house could be faster and more cost effective.”

When the lease on the existing print equipment came up for renewal, the school began looking for an alternative solution. “I considered quite a few options,” says the reprographics manager. “As part of the selection process we tried out each print technology with a range of tests including our letterhead with its distinctive logo. We finally chose to partner with Ricoh because of the quality of its print equipment – it could do everything. Colours matched, the features and software meant we could do most of our printing ourselves, and the price was good. We were also impressed with the level of service and support offered.”

Epson’s WorkForce Pro Series of multifunction inkjet printers are specifically designed to offer high-quality output, durability and cost and energy efficiencies, (factors schools consider when choosing print solutions.) With a 50% lower cost per page and up to 80% lower power consumption than laser counterparts, they are an economic and ecological choice.

These high-speed inkjet printers offer a genuine alternative to laser products and provide further cost savings due to a super-fast automatic double-sided printing function, reducing paper usage. Schools can benefit from lower ink costs and a choice of high-yield cartridges of up to 3,400 pages, while a print resolution of 4,800 x 1,200dpi is much higher than comparative lasers for clearer text and sharper images.

Lincolnshire’s Walton Girls High School and Sixth Form installed 40 Epson WorkForce Pro printers after originally using a variety of printers from different manufacturers, meaning time-consuming and costly print fleet management, repair and maintenance. They can now carry one set of inks rather than multiple brands, reducing cost of ownership so greatly that rather than installing a number of printers in key areas throughout the school, Walton has been able to exceed their initial requirement and place one in every classroom.

Higher education level

At university level, the right print solutions can bring numerous benefits, according to Richard Turner, marketing manager, Wide Format Group, Canon UK: “Increasingly, higher education institutions in particular are looking to in-source student print as it is a key way to improve the overall student experience. For example, by providing to architecture students the means to print large technical drawings (critical to their course) on campus with wide format printers, the institution is helping to replicate the students’ future work environment and also provide the real ‘tools of the trade’ as they learn. Importantly, this approach can actually present an opportunity to re-invest in student services (once initial ROI is realised on the equipment, additional revenue can then be re-invested into student resources via the purchase of, for example, additional equipment) as well as lowering student outlays – typically with the institution seeing an ROI in less than 18 months.”

Canon also worked with a UK university to create a dedicated print source to support its architecture and visual arts faculty. Turner added: “This enabled its 600 students on courses such as architecture and photography (who each required around 1,000 prints per year) to access immediate, cost-effective, ‘real-world’ print resources they would ordinarily have had to source externally, in their own time and at a higher cost. As well as being up to 80% cheaper than externally sourced print, an in-house facility also better supports students around submission deadlines, which are notoriously stressful times.”

According to Pauric Surlis, public sector manager, Kyocera Document Solutions UK, a recent Kyocera survey asked over 500 UK teachers what improvements they would most like to see in their organisation’s technology in the next year. ‘Better quality printing’ was the second most popular answer, cited by 48% of respondents, signifying the ongoing importance of print within education despite new technologies’ emergence. Experts at industry analyst Gartner estimate 3% of an organisation’s revenue is spent on print.

Schools, colleges and universities are using managed print services to better understand their print requirements, bringing benefits such as controlling access to devices and assigning costs to departments. Pauric said: “Apps are increasing in significance and we’re seeing more demand for our range of HyPAS (Hybrid Platform for Advanced Solutions) apps for the education sector. These include Teaching Assistant which automatically marks student papers on the device, ensures accurate test reporting and allows teachers more time to focus on their pupils.”

Spoilt for choice

With a wide array of print technology on the market, schools and colleges are advised to work though a ‘checklist’ of what to consider before purchasing. Paul Young, head of technical services for UTAX (UK) said: “We all know a multifunction device can be used to copy and print but what else do schools want them to do? Printing in colour is considerably more expensive than printing in mono, so why not control what can be printed and why not look for solutions such as three-tier printing where charges are based on colour ink coverage rather than fixed cost? Our products also have control and restrictions that schools can put in place so pupils, for example, are only able to print during class time. Then there are the more indirect cost savings; software such as UTAX Assist can be used to free up space otherwise being filled with archive boxes and make for quicker searchable electronic archiving.” 

Schools and universities, then, would do well to consider print solutions in a new light, with today’s multifunction devices being dynamic tools ready to enhance the establishment’s brand, save money for it and the pupil and introduce the latter to office skills making them work-ready. Such devices are ready to meet the demands made on them; the greatest challenge may be for schools and colleges to appreciate – and anticipate – how useful such technology can be, now and in the coming years.  

FREE LIVE WEBINAR

CUTTING COVID-19, NOT CORNERS