March 4, 2014

Emmanuel Goes Efficient, Green with ECPrint

One of 27 new student printers

On February 10th, the Information Technology department unveiled the first phase of the College's new, campus-wide printing initiative ECPrint. Students were the first users to test 27 new multifunctional devices, which provide full printing, copying and scanning at 17 centralized locations.

"Emmanuel needed an upgraded printing system for several reasons," said Director of IT Services and Support Al Osward, who, with his team, spent nearly a year researching software and hardware options aiming to create an optimum end-user experience for students, staff and faculty.

The primary goal was to eliminate all of the older, inefficient personal printing devices scattered throughout the campus, which were both difficult and expensive to maintain. With those devices came a lot of waste, both paper and toner. (Additionally, Emmanuel was the only school in the Colleges of the Fenway consortium that did not have a quota on student printing.) Second, the old print system was a single point of failure, meaning that if the printer a user was connected to was jammed or out of toner, there wasn't another option. Also, IT had to address issues with security and the printing of confidential information.

"If you're not sitting within a few feet of a public printer, you don't know who will see your documents before you get there," Osward said. "With our staff and faculty printing student ID numbers and grades, we had to allow for personal printers because we didn't have other security measures in place."

Information Technology found a solution in PaperCut's print/account management software and a number of energy-efficient, high-capacity Toshiba devices.  With PaperCut, IT is able to implement a print quota for students, while tracking the amount of printing done by faculty and staff and myriad other data. Paired with FollowMe's output management program, which requires users to scan their Emmanuel ID to release a print job at any device on campus, the College is already seeing impressive numbers less than three weeks after launch.

Prior to the rollout of ECPrint, student printing was limited to four devices in the Cardinal Cushing Library. The number of devices in the Library has been upgraded to six, with 21 additional devices throughout the Administration Building, Wilkens Science Center, Jean Yawkey Center and the four residence halls. Students are able to print from any computer, including their personal computers, and release their print jobs by scanning their student IDs at a location convenient for them. While PaperCut indicates that nearly 50 percent of student printing is still done in the Library, the printers in the common areas of the residence halls are also seeing a lot of activity. Students are also able to print in color on a select number of machines.

The PaperCut system also offers data on when students are printing at the highest volume, allowing the IT department to gauge device traffic, as well as the best time to restock paper.

An added benefit of a more efficient printing system is the reduced impact on the environment.

"It's amazing, the cost and environmental benefits that come along just by doing things right," Osward said.  

Each of the new devices allow for double-sided printing, with PaperCut encouraging the paper-saving option for any documents over nine pages. In the first three weeks, statistics showed that 62 percent of print jobs were being printed double sided, compared to just two or three percent previously. Additionally, in the first week, 5,491 pages were saved when students decided they didn't need to release them from the print queue. With the ECPrint system, unprinted jobs are deleted after 24 hours. Toshiba also offers the "Close the Loop" initiative, allowing for toner cartridges to be recycled into eLumber, a plastic "wood" that has similar characteristics and functions of hardwood.

The addition of a print quota for students (allowing for the most pages of any COF school, at the lowest cost) also makes students more mindful of what they are printing and on which device.

Phase two for faculty and staff will be implemented in the coming weeks, bringing the number of new devices on campus to 54.