Pharos Pay-For-Print Will Collect Funds, Reduce Waste

ACANS News & Information Center

Pharos Pay-For-Print Will Collect Funds, Reduce Waste

New Mexico State University is in the initial rollout stage of implementing a new printing system.  The Pharos pay-for print system will electronically track and process print jobs and automatically charge users for printing.  It will replace the current change box honor system in ICT labs across campus.  Teresa Burgin, Director of Instructional Support Services for ICT, has been working on the project for over a year and played a role in the project’s inception , organizing committees and reviewing proposed printing systems.   Burgin came from educational institutions that had already implemented similar pay-for-print systems with successful results.  “The main things we are trying to accomplish with the new system are to eliminate waste of paper and toner and to create cost savings and recovery,” she says.

Brother can you spare a dime? Contrary to popularly held belief, it does take funds to purchase the paper you are printing to.  Any and all donations, however slight, are ENORMOUSLY appreciated...Brother can you spare a dime? Printing ain’t cheap.

Currently, if a student wishes to print a document from an ICT lab, they simply print from their computer, pick up the document, and – hopefully – pay for their printing.  But here’s the rub: since the money for printing is collected through an honor system, the system is often abused.  “The money we recover from the change boxes is actually very small,” says Burgin, “and every day we have reams of waste paper being thrown away.”  The Pharos system will increase user accountability because it will track and record every print job a user performs.  Sam Hammond, Manager of ICT’s Computer Information Systems, works with the servers that deliver the Pharos system.  He thinks the new system will produce a thirty percent reduction in waste printing during the first year alone.

In addition to the money saved by reducing waste, the Pharos system will be able to charge users for each print job, generating needed replacement revenue.  Paper and toner aren’t free and they certainly aren’ t cheap; currently, paper and toner in ICT labs are paid for through the ICT Student Computing Services operating fund.  Money collected by Pharos for printing jobs will be used to buy paper, toner, and new printers.  Burgin expects to experience savings and recovery of funds within one year of implementing the system.  Hammond is quick to point out other benefits of Pharos’ print tracking abilities.  “Because you can track every print job, there’s the potential to answer management questions that relate to demand.  For example, who’s doing a lot of printing?  Where do available resources need to go?  The system can track usage for whole departments all the way down to the individual, and that will allow us to use our resources most effectively.”

Two Pharos printers with signs and change boxesThe signs and change box will soon be gone, as paying for printing becomes automatic.

The system is currently being piloted in two Jacobs Hall labs: rooms 128 and 205.  When students try to print from a computer in either of these labs, they will be prompted to authorize the printing job with their student ID number.  Once their identity has been verified, the print job will be delivered to the printer, and the student will be charged through his or her university account or Money$Card account.  Students are not being charged in this test run, but that will change in January when the Pharos system is implemented across campus.   Burgin says there is a possibility that students would be given an allotment of free printed pages each semester; on the down side, though, there is a chance that printing costs could rise above their current three cents per page for black and white printing.

A similar pay-for-print system has been in use at NMSU’s libraries for ten years.  Instead of using an on-screen verification or putting money in a change box, students pay for print jobs with money from a rechargeable “copycard.”  Chris Landt, Systems Support Analyst at Branson library, has witnessed the long-term benefits of a pay-for-print system first hand.  Before the library started the system, there was a huge amount of waste.  Now, there is almost none.  The system pays for itself several times over each year, says Landt, and the initial cost to purchase the system was paid for within three years of start-up.

Burgin is also working with departments across the university to implement the Pharos system in their offices.   “Most departments have expressed a lot of interest in being able to track their printing usage, ” she says, “and departments can even specify their own print parameters.”  Burgin has high hopes for Pharos.  “The system is really going to save a lot of money and resources.  People are going to think twice before throwing pages away or printing things that they don’t need.”

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