Repurposed printers pay off for gas producer

For anything more than marginal cost savings, a large enterprise might consider that printers and other imaging paraphernalia deserve better than peripheral treatment.

A leading natural gas producer in Alberta is saving $2 million annually by better managing its fleet of printers, photocopiers and fax machines, according to Michael Traynor, president of ComPrint Solutions Ltd.

ComPrint is a Calgary-based printing services company that counts among its clients EnCana Corp., the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, Bank of Montreal and the City of Calgary.

ComPrint consolidated the gas company’s printing and imaging environment by replacing single-function printers and “virtually all the photocopiers they had” with multifunction printers.

But before ComPrint could initiate these changes, the entire fleet of over 2,000 printers and copiers needed to be identified and analyzed, says Traynor. He used Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Total Print Management suite to form a strategy that was more productive and cost-efficient.

“We deal with most of the large oil and gas companies in Alberta,” says Traynor. “This particular company has about 4,000 employees, mostly in Alberta, but we also support their offices around the world, in Africa and South America.”

Traynor says consolidation – such as reducing 2,000 printers and 100 copiers to about 300 printers and 300 multifunction printers – accounts for most of the $2 million in hard cost savings achieved by the gas company.

“We ended up changing 50 models of devices to about three or four model types. So in effect, we’re taking the same number of (output) pages and putting them on fewer devices…(giving) you better efficiency. “The devices we’re putting in are generally more useful. They have more features, like scan to e-mail, for example.”

Traynor says the savings most clients talk about are the ones they know about, savings that are visible and tangible. “They generally measure it by cost-per-copy so it’s more transparent. So that $2 million doesn’t take into account indirect savings like the impact on your IT staff and the productivity of your employees.

“The hard savings is derived from consolidating printers into newer multifunction print devices, redeploying existing equipment into more appropriate areas and reducing operational costs”.

Enterprises are very aware that imaging and printing remains an unmanaged and uncontrolled space, much like the PC environment was 10 years ago, according to Peter Grady, director of marketing, for Mississauga, Ont.-based HP Canada’s imaging and printing group.

“Web Jetadmin and the Printing and Imaging Assessment Tool are really ways for businesses to start to understand the costs, both direct and indirect, that (affect) the enterprise today, and what they can do to move efficiently and effectively to get them under control,” he says.

Part of the challenge for the enterprise is assessing which of these costs are related, for example hardware and supplies, or infrastructure and operational costs, says Grady. “It isn’t an easy process to identify the costs and control them.”

The HP Total Print Management portfolio contains a range of tools and resources, but the outstanding software for ComPrint remains Web Jetadmin, which also works with non-HP devices in a multi-vendor environment, said Traynor.

“If you’re a small office with 50 people and 10 devices, you probably don’t need it, but when you get into these larger fleets, you really need a good (management) tool,” he says.

According to Traynor, the gas company’s overall operational cost went down substantially by managing the printer environment with Web Jetadmin. “Supplies like toner and other consumables, such as drums and imaging kits, cost of maintenance and service…are the major areas where you see savings.”

Consolidation and reduction of equipment created a simpler environment for everybody, says Traynor.

“One school we deal with has 64 suppliers and in their stock room they have 200 different kinds of toner,” he says. “So they have a carrying cost of inventory and ordering, and keeping track of all that is crazy.”

Web Jetadmin enabled ComPrint to better manage that school’s inventory for supplies. “And when things go down, we go in and fix it or swap it or do what we have to do.”

Sometimes, ComPrint’s clients aren’t that easily accessible. When a new printer is needed or a service issue arises in a really remote location, the company performs what it calls a hot swap, which includes sending a replacement printer out to a client, says Traynor.

“We had a guy go on a service call in Chad, in the middle of the desert in Africa. It was for some maintenance issue on a multifunction printer. He had an armed escort all the way to the site.

“It’s not always easy to get IT support in some locations. We try to do it remotely as much as we can, but sometimes nothing beats getting on a plane and getting out there.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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