Waste not, want not: tips on cutting wasteful printing


Date: 29 November 2010

Printer ink cartridgeWasteful printing causes more damage than the average business realises. Wasted paper and ink or toner supplies are just the tip of the iceberg. That wastefulness has a hidden price: disposal costs, unnecessary wear-and-tear on the printer and higher maintenance, for starters. Annoyingly, it is difficult to nail down a figure for what you are wasting. And that makes it harder to justify a print saving scheme. Indeed, in some companies printing activities are departmentalised, removing any ability to aggregate cost information and so make a start on limiting your printing costs. However, here are four steps you can implement today to begin cutting down on waste. And as they roll out across your business, you will begin to see the cascading benefit of print management - and the tangible bottom line savings. Four ways to curb waste

  1. Check for hidden features. Look into the features of your printers. They now often support add-on applications tailormade for an individual company’s needs. For example, one manufacturer supplies an app dedicated to faxing legal documents securely - meaning you don't need to print off the items in question.
  2. Look at your printing protocols. Create an official printing policy for employees to not only follow, but also contribute to. Encouraging cost saving activities - such as double-sided and greyscale printing where possible - is a good start. Listening listening to employees’ suggestions can highlight great ideas for limiting unnecessary prints.
  3. Make everyone accountable. As part of your printing policy, issue individual user IDs or PIN codes so you can track every single print request in your business. Forcing employees to think about what they print, and whether hard copies are really necessary, is an easy way to put a stop to pointless printing. It also gives you a way to forecast future demand. You can thus tailor your purchasing of consumables in line with your forecast. That's a fantastic way to save even more money and limit the amount of cash tied up in stored supplies.
  4. Consolidate your printers. Unless it is critical to the business, switching from lots of personal printers to one or two centrally-located, networked machines will provide huge savings on running costs. You don't just save the power consumption of numerous idle printers - but you also save ink and electricity by minimising the initialisation processes that printers go through before each print request. And you'll save on maintenance too, of course.

If your company has found other ways to reduce its printing bill, share your tips below. John Sollars, is MD of Stinkyink.com

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