The University of Central Oklahoma once had a desktop printer or multifunction copy machine for nearly every faculty and staff member on campus. In 2009, 1,313 desktop printers and 135 multifunction copy machines were being used by 1,500 faculty and staff members. Denise Smith, director of Purchasing, Payment Services, and Travel, shares that UCO saw an opportunity for consolidation that could reduce spending and improve sustainability on campus.
Part of the problem originated from the fact that faculty and staff members could order desktop printers costing less than $500 without third-party approval using their university purchasing cards, so the number of desktop printers in use on campus proliferated quickly. Convenience trumped all. Consequently, by 2009, there were 853 different models in use. The university’s Office of Information Technology “spent a great deal of time and manpower on phone calls and office calls to fix jammed or nonworking desktop printer equipment,” says Smith. “When they could not resolve the problem, funds were spent for additional vendor services for repairs.”
Prompted by a green initiative championed by the university’s president and information technology vice president, Smith and her team set out to support and implement a plan to reduce the number of vendors providing equipment (12 at the time), standardize the purchase of new equipment, and reduce obsolescence, waste, and costs—as well as the university’s carbon footprint.
The first step in that process was to find a single vendor partner to manage the existing inventory and overhaul the current placement of multifunction printers, with a goal of significantly reducing the number of units in place. Standley Systems was selected and immediately began cataloging every printing device on campus. After 12 weeks of its staff walking the entire 210-acre campus, Standley reported that 1,448 devices were in use; no one had previously known exactly how many there were because no reporting of purchases had ever been required.
Standley also reported on the closets they had discovered filled to the gills with excess toner cartridges, often for printers that had long been discarded. To use up the vast inventory of cartridges, Smith created a complex Excel spreadsheet identifying available units and placed restrictions on additional cartridge purchases until the existing store was depleted.
After only 15 months, the university now has one vendor on a five-year lease; 519 printers in place, many of which have been converted to Energy Star Qualified Savin models; a reduction in copy paper usage that has amounted to a $43,711 savings; a reduction in toner costs of $119,183; and a drop in costs per copy from $.067 to $.0175 for black and white and from $.247 to $.0999 for color. During the first year alone, the university saved $412,860.25, with further reductions of 15 percent to 20 percent anticipated in year two. And with copiers placed in centralized locations, no user has to take more than 20 steps to retrieve a print job.