New printing system will reduce waste

by Khalil Ayvar | 10/11/01 5:00am

Computing Services is getting ready to test a new piece of software that will change the printing procedure in the hopes of reducing waste.

Operations Manager Mike Hogan said that Computing Services is currently installing the new software to test it. The program is called UnipriNT, and Hogan said other schools across the country have already implemented it.

Currently, networked print jobs go to various queues at Berry, Collis or Kresge and are automatically printed. Staff members on location prepare and file the printed documents alphabetically to be picked up by students.

With the new software, students would still submit print jobs over the network, but to a single queue, where the job would remain frozen until the user arrived at the printer of his or her choice.

Hogan said that the student would then either swipe a card or enter a name and password to "release" the document and print it out.

"It doesn't matter how long the queue is; with the new software, you simply print on arrival," Hogan said.

Hogan admitted that the College would need to purchase more printers, but "as it is, each year we already spend more than the previous on faster, better quality machines" to replace hardware that has worn out.

After the initial expenditures, Hogan estimated approximately $60,000 would be saved each year in toner, paper and staffing costs.

Currently, 5.5 million sheets of paper are printed per year, and according to Hogan, approximately 25 percent of that (1.375 million sheets) ends up wasted.

Bill Driscoll, a staff worker at the Berry printer, pointed to several large stacks of multiple-page printouts, some individual stacks nearly three-quarters of a ream in volume, and three full drawers of yesterday's alphabetized print jobs.

"All this, and these three drawers, will be trashed tonight," he said.

"The system currently in place is a system that needs to evolve," Hogan said. "If this software works the way we're hoping it will, it will be more efficient, more effective, and cause less anxiety."

Gone would be the frustration, he said, of waiting in line to get to the filed printouts -- or to discover that your paper is still not there.

Driscoll took a droll view of this new system. "Our only fear is what it's going to do to the lazy students, the ones who come in for their paper just before class," he joked.

Hogan pointed out, however, that typically there are 20-25 people in line to check the filed print-outs at Berry 10 minutes before class. "It normally takes about 10 minutes for the last person to get to the files, and his paper isn't always there because other people ... are getting printed first."

"Now imagine only printing for the people waiting there in line," he continued. "With six to eight to 10 printers printing at 45 pages per minute, the most they'd have to wait would be a minute or two. It would be even faster with no need for cover pages, too, since the person the documents are printed for are right there."

There are currently only four printers in Berry, which serve three queues: Public, Duplex and Not Stapled. Hogan said the current area in front of the printing desk would eventually be expanded into a hall connecting with the new Carson building, and they could use that space for more printers, should the software be implemented.

According to Hogan, Dartmouth is one of the last colleges that still does not charge students for printing. He said he'd like to "see Dartmouth as a last bastion of free public printing, yet with no waste."

When asked about the possibility of expanding the current printing programs in remote dorms such as the River Cluster and East Wheelock, Hogan replied that it was "part of the vision to expand the printing there, but we need to put more thought into it. Controlled printing places need staff for replacing paper, toner cartridges and repairing failures and jams."

Director of Residential Operations Woody Eckels agreed, saying "Before putting additional printers in residential halls, we have to figure out where to put them, and who would staff them."

Twenty years ago, he said, there were printers in every residence hall, but they were vandalized often, so they were removed.

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