North-West University cuts wastage and saves money with print management

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North-West University needed a print management system to improve efficiency, reduce expenditure, and enable it to recharge costs to staff. It chose a solution from Nashua based on PaperCut software.

The challenges

For academic institutions, managing print costs can be a headache. The print environment must meet the diverse needs of staff and students, and is often spread over a large area – but needs to be tightly controlled.

With 70,000 students across three campuses, North-West University (NWU) is one of South Africa’s largest higher education establishments. While it was using software to count the pages printed, the University realised it was getting inaccurate results, and was lacking full print management capabilities.

“We were missing out on revenue from students, and wanted better measurement for staff printing,” says Barend Pretorius, senior IT consultant, North-West University. “We saw that by implementing a print management system we would reduce waste and save money.”

The solution

NWU’s IT team talked to other universities in South Africa to see what systems they were using for print management, and looked at several possible options. NWU had already been working with Nashua over many years, so it asked Nashua to propose a solution.

“Nashua showed us PaperCut software, and after seeing a demo we decided to run a proof of concept (POC),” says Pretorius. For this, NWU used PaperCut on four printers on one site for a month, and reviewed the results.

“The POC ran well, and user feedback was good,” says Pretorius. “Based on the results, which included cutting the print volume by 15%, we chose PaperCut as our print management software across the three campuses.”

Simple, centralised management

“Another factor in our choice of PaperCut was that it can run on any operating system, including our current Novell environment, and Active Directory if we change in the future,” says Pretorius. “Other solutions we looked at only worked with Active Directory.”

The PaperCut system runs on servers at the main campus, and Pretorius comments, “Centralising makes management and support easier, because we will only have servers to maintain on one site instead of three – and we will also save money on VMware software licensing costs.”

“The PaperCut reports will help to make printing more efficient, as we can track the number of pages printed on each device, and then move printers to where they match users’ requirements,” says Pretorius. “This will also help us to demonstrate where a networked, high-volume device can be more cost-effective than standalone printers on desks.”

Convenient and secure

As well as reporting, the PaperCut solution holds print jobs in a queue, and staff or students swipe their access card at a printer to release a job. This means that NWU now benefits from ‘follow me’ printing, where a user can choose to print a document wherever is most convenient. Topping up the credit on a swipe card is easy at cash boxes, or can be done online.

“We have computer labs with central printers, and sometimes when the labs were busy, students might have had to wait for their printing,” says Pretorius. “PaperCut means they can get their job from any printer, even in the student hostel – and it is more secure, as no-one else can pick up their documents.”

Cost savings

In the last 12 months, NWU has spent around R3.8m on the running costs of printing, for an output of 21 million pages. Student printing is about a third of this number, with the rest being staff usage.

“With PaperCut, we can implement policies for our staff to cut wastage, including duplex printing,” says Pretorius. “We don’t currently bill staff for printing, but PaperCut will enable us to recharge costs to each faculty and set up departmental budgets.”

“Based on the results we’ve seen so far, and the savings achieved by similar systems at the other universities we visited, we predict that PaperCut will reduce our printing costs by 20 to 25%,” says Pretorius. “This will come primarily from reduced wastage and enforced duplexing.”

The new system will help NWU meet its green targets by minimising wastage, and Pretorius comments, “By demonstrating the environmental impact of printing, PaperCut will help show users how important
it is to print less.”

“Nashua are very helpful and responsive, and they go out of their way to provide a solution that fits our needs,” concludes Pretorius. “Overall, we’ve been really happy with the support we have received from Nashua.”

For further information on any aspect of becoming a customer reference for Nashua , please contact Nashua’s communications manager, Jessica Midlane – [email protected].

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