I hate printers. I hate HPs bloated and bug-infested drivers, and I hate Xerox’s blatant fraud over their ’empty’ toner cartridges. However, what I especially hate about printers is that we have so damned many of them.

We have 61 printers currently in use in the school. Compare this with the fact that we only have about 90 staff, and those numbers are somewhat ridiculous. 41 of those printers are inkjets, which are awful quality and expensive to run. There are also so many different models of printers that I have 58 different types of consumables to keep stock of. The budget for consumables (decided before I was hired) ran out in February, despite the fact that I changed supplier the moment I arrived and have reduced our per-unit costs by about 20%.

Recently I put a proposal to staff to scrap all of the inkjet printers in classrooms and replace them with shared colour laser printers, at a ratio of roughly 1 printer per 3-4 classrooms.

20% of staff voted in the ‘over my dead body’ category. I’m starting to think their conditions may be acceptable.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

8 responses to “Printers”

  1. 17G33K says :

    You poor soul

    again even with my new build looming whan i started 2 years ago i sudgested bulk buying 35 HP P2015N laser black and white printers and they actually listened

    all apart from one of these have been awsome and the crappy one was returned and replaced free of charge

    Think this was one of the few printers HP made that is reasonablly reliable and fast.

    where i used to work we had 128 printers and 110 staff (it was MADNESS)
    but i need my cr@ppy inkjet and it is your job to come and service it at least once a day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just sometimes i wish i worked in a private school…….. Or maybe a job where i get respect and listened to…….. Oh well for now back to the real world.

  2. Lukas Beeler says :

    We have 35 people and 10 printers – 7 workgroup laser printers, 1 high-end color laser and two inkjet multi function devices (OfficeJet something-something). Absolute overkill, but at least you only have to walk 5 meters to your next 45ppm printer.

    At least for the first 8 devices, i can use the HP Universal Driver and be done with it. One driver for 8 devices isn’t too bad and it works well.

    But inkjet MFPs are a nightmare – they eat ink for breakfeast (compared to the lasers, were toners need to be changed once per quarter), the print quality is horrible, they’re slow, the drivers suck, but it’s what people wanted – i could either get one laser multi function device, or two shitty inkjet ones.

    My advice was the first, but people voted for the latter. Of course in the meantime, the vote is that when they finally fail forever, we’ll replace them with a laser MFP.

    61 printers and 58 types of consumables – that sounds like a bad idea.

    Have you though about outsourcing your printer pool? Some of our larger customers have done this – they pay per printed page and per month, get new devices every two years and don’t have to worry about having consumables on-site and reinvestment for new devices. I’m not big with the financial stuff, but it’s apparently cheaper than having your own stuff…

    • AngryTechnician says :

      I have absolutely thought about it, and when I ran the numbers in my last school it definitely worked out cheaper. Unfortunately I have no metrics on page counts at my current school because even the network printers don’t support SNMP and the print server is already wheezing so badly due to age and underspecification that I dare not install any auditing software on it – especially since it’s also a replica DC (don’t ask).

      Come the summer when all the sins of the previous system will be purged forever, I’ll be able to get a proper handle on it, but for now I do at least have a nice bespoke stock management system to help with this nightmare.

  3. chris says :

    we have about 250 staff most have there own room with a “laser printer” sometimes we get some come in and say can we have a ink- “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, no you cant you have a laser and thats final” just alot easier with the toners and we have only a couple of makes so its ok with toners :)

  4. tmcd35 says :

    I take it the 20% ‘over my dead body’ camp where out voted by an 80% yes camp? Or where the other 80% voting ‘where not willing to die for the cause, but the answer is still no’?

    I’ll head out on a limb and say I’m liking Oki printer. I’m getting Lasertech compatibles for them as well which is saving £’s. But I haven’t done the ‘Xerox rip-off test’ on them yet.

    That said I have to print 850 copies of our Specialist Science Newsletter everyterm, we had no A3 Colour Photocopier. Knowing that I always run out of toner half way though the print run I bought some spare toner ahead of time. A couple of days before the print run the black drum goes end-of-life. So I get a replacement. Half way through the print run the Magenta and Cyan drums have now gone! Thankfully the Business Managers had ordered a new Photocopier, it arrived yesterday, it’s A3 Colour, the missing 400 copies will be done on that Monday moning!

    Also, when your print server has been replaced you may want to look at Papercut NG for managing print queues. Fantstic bit of software. Easy to install and use. It also has agents to install on clients for local usb/parallel printers.

  5. ICT_Tech says :

    I work in a private school and we have about 110 printers, 98% new HP printers, although this is for about 500-600 staff and about 1000 pupils(I think) and across multiple sites, it still ain’t much fun. HP drivers are crap, I’m always having to reinstall them on the server! Our consumables was built into the package with the new printers as we now pay per print so least now I don’t need to worry about budgets for that :-)

    We also use webjetadmin, which emails the company for a replacement cartridge when a new one is installed, it works most of the time!

    Sorry that ramble probably didn’t make things any easier for you :-)

  6. TheCrust says :

    We used to have countless lasers and inkjets around the place but when we moved into our new build, we chose to operate a follow-me print system provided and supported by Ricoh.

    There are now around 10 mono MFD printers around the site with a colour device sited centrally for students and staff to use, all operated by Equitrac print management software. Students and staff all have print cards and print to a single central queue. The device they swipe their card at is the device that prints their work. We rent the MFD’s and pay a “per click” print cost and it just works.

    Their invoicing side is another matter – our experiences are that at best it could be described as “somewhat perculiar” which for me is the one thing that lets the Ricoh solution down.

    On the physical side – that is the MFDs themselves – it can’t be faulted so may be worth a look if you were considering a change?

  7. garethedmondson says :

    Interesting article on printers there AT. We’ve just decided to get rid of all our printers across the school – due to our massive £12K per year ink spent.

    Instead we are having Multi Function Devices placed at strategic locations across the school.

    Teachers are not happy, but it’s meant to save money. Time will tell whether it will.


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