Buying printers for schools

If users don’t turn up at a printer within four hours of the print request, the job lapses. Result? No more unnecessary recycling from unwanted or forgotten prints.

Buying printers for schools

Spotted a spelling mistake or omission in a document after sending it to the print queue? Either cancel it or don’t go to pick it up. It’s as easy as that, and it means that 21% of the print jobs initiated on the system don’t get printed.

The view from the ICT provider

Oxfordshire-based RM has moved from being a successful supplier of ICT services, based on its own catalogue, through the consultancy route of BSF to a far wider view on technology for schools.

It sells a range of printers to schools, but it also encourages them to develop a strategy for their printing. And that includes primary schools, which tend to be more liberal with their printing, rewarding children with print-outs of their work, for example.

RM doesn’t want to clamp down entirely on these rewards, but points out that this laissez faire attitude can be disastrous for balance sheets, particularly in times where jobs may be at risk.

Golden rules for printing

  • Printing costs should be tied down so that the school can be confident it knows the cost of each sheet of printed paper.
  • The need to own hardware is coming to an end – contracts can bring advantageous fixed costs to hardware, maintenance, consumables and upgrading.
  • The days of the inkjet printer in schools are numbered; they’re more relevant for personal use.
  • Minimise photo printing. It’s generally cheaper to print photos on the high street or use online photographic printing services.

So there’s a general encouragement for primaries to move to “enterprise light” contracts so they can start to appreciate the benefits of fixed costs while still enjoying flexibility. It also suggests that primaries share printers between classes so they can buy higher-quality machines.

“It’s amazing how few schools know what they’re spending and don’t even have the receipts for consumables they’ve bought,” says RM’s product manager Nicola Bates. The trends she has noticed have been away from inkjet printers and towards colour lasers, a trend that’s based on value for money and a growing understanding of green issues and recycling.

She is confident of providing significant savings for any school using ten or more printers and concludes: “Anyone is more than welcome to contact us for a free print audit.”

Keeping it simple

In her role as an inspector with Havering’s inspection and advisory service in east London, Penny Patterson has immense experience with a range of schools, from small primaries through to highly ambitious BSF projects. She believes that, as far as possible, educational establishments should aim to install the same type of printers across the school, whether it’s a secondary or primary.

“Mainly so that in terms of consumables you’re holding just one set that can service all the printers in the school,” she explains. “We don’t recommend anything other than colour printers now because they can be configured to print economically just for black and white print. It’s about having the same printers everywhere, particularly when you’re refreshing a whole-school installation.”

Even where exceptions are made and different printers are used – for confidential printing in the office, perhaps – the advice remains to match the consumables. “We don’t want any printers to hold anything less than a ream of A4 paper,” she adds, “with nothing other than horizontal paper feeds.”

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