Printer choice in schools is often determined by what is a good deal at the time. However, what seems like a bargain can quickly become a false economy if the total cost of ownership hasn’t been taken into account. We’d always recommend that schools look at the purchase price as well as the on-going running costs.
Inkjet printers in general are now emerging as serious alternatives to laser printers in education, offering speed, reliability and energy-efficiency advantages. Savvy schools should be looking for a number of print features, including:
Low cost per page, speed, durability and quality
Due to the heavy print load, classrooms need printers that are durable but also fast and economical. A business inkjet printer offers high performance, reliability and value meaning teachers and pupils can print as much or as little as they need.
Individual ink cartridges
Look for inkjet printers that come with individual ink cartridges, which means you only need to replace the ink you use. By choosing an inkjet printer that is designed to deliver high-volume printing in full colour, schools can bring classroom materials to life in colour for the same cost as a mono (black and white) laser print.
Networked printers can reduce the overall number of printers required either in the classroom, office or staffroom.
Schools should look for products that are Energy Star qualified. This means they are designed to reduce electricity usage and costs without compromising on quality of output.
The selection of a suitable printer type and fleet structure is of fundamental importance to any school’s delivery and productivity, and must be properly aligned to its workplace and workgroup footprint. Our research shows that two of the top productivity frustrations revealed by print users were those associated with printer maintenance (57%) and the downtime resulting from print queues and having to leave workspaces to retrieve prints (48%) from central printer banks.
For many schools, there is a need for a printer in each classroom, which is equivalent to smaller workgroups in businesses that require a more flexible and accessible print model. The logical choice for such schools is a distributed printer fleet, where printers are located in each classroom and are locally controlled for improved performance, motivation and productivity.
Historically, distributed printer fleets have not always been a palatable solution because of the perceived challenges associated with predicting print costs and managing maintenance. This view is changing and new technologies are emerging to alleviate these concerns.
A Managed Print Service (MPS) sourced through a channel partner means that service visits can be organised and consumables delivered on a just-in-time basis without the need for the school’s IT department to use essential time to book a service call or place an order. It can also help to prevent overstocking of consumable supplies such as ink cartridges, and ensures that schools do not pay for unused supplies. Where storage space is limited, as is often the case with many schools, this makes this an attractive option. When IT budgets are under pressure packages like this can bring costs down and help with the ongoing management of supplies and budgets.
It also allows teachers and technicians to free up their time to concentrate on the primary objective of educating students. In addition, the school has a partner to which it can turn for advice and guidance on technical issues.
Schools looking to make the move to an MPS should think as holistically as possible about this undertaking, taking into account the print technology and fleet distribution model most suitable for their organisation. Indeed, for some organisations, the relatively small change of moving to another printer technology or fleet model might be the key to their realisation of huge productivity and bottom-line gains.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Silcock is business manager for business imaging at Epson (UK) Limited