New printing system may include quotas

Last year, one cluster printer user printed 15,960 pages in two months, according to data collected by Carnegie Mellon Computing Services as part of a rigorous analysis of the university?s printing system. ?That?s about three 50-pound cases of paper,? said Mike Kelleher, Clusters Field Consultant.
Cluster Services is aiming to solve such problems and is nearing the end of a two-year project of renovating the printing regime at CMU. The result will be a new, kiosk-based printing system that will require users to be present at the kiosk to ?release? their jobs before they are actually printed.
The goal of the project is to reduce the overall cost of printing, alleviate long-standing complaints from printer users, and rein in the abuse of cluster printers. The means to achieving those goals may also include a print quota, capping users? total printing allowance.
Cluster Services recently deployed, for field testing, the first of three printing management solutions under consideration for wide-scale implementation by the fall of 2005. The first kiosk is located in Kirr Commons. Cluster Services is seeking user feedback on the system and is willing to make it worthwhile for respondents: Filling out a survey about the printing experience buys the survey-taker a chance to win an iPod Photo or a $300 gift certificate to the campus store.
?Overall, a lot of the comments have been positive,? said Pomona Valero, Clusters Manager. ?This is going to help with implementation. We?re coming across the biggest problems now.?
The most significant problem so far has been recurring system freezes.
Under the new system, documents will be stored on a server until the user ?releases? the job by swiping his student ID and selecting the job on a touch-screen at the printer kiosk. By requiring the user to be present at the printer before the job will print, Cluster Services hopes to reduce waste and organize the printing process.
Cluster managers estimated that as much as 50 percent of paper printed gets discarded, including cover sheets, which account for an estimated 12 percent of all paper printed.
Diane Loviglio, founder of Sustainable Students, applauds the goals of the printing project. ?This new printing system will not only save paper but will hopefully train students to be more responsible in their actions,? she said.
If a quota is implemented, the ID reader will identify the individual printing and apply the job?s cost to a tally stored in a central database.
Any quota that will be implemented would affect a small percentage of printer users.
?We are planning to set a quota that will accommodate 85 to 95 percent of users at current printing levels.? said Kelleher. According to data collected for the study, 10 percent of users account for 43 percent of all pages printed, indicating that even quotas applying to few users could significantly reduce the amount of overall printing.
The quota may be implemented on a weekly period. In that case, an individual who reaches his quota would have to wait until the next week before printing again to the kiosks. Alternatively, additional printing could be sold at the campus store or elsewhere.
Computing Services will demonstrate the trial system daily in Kirr Commons from Monday through Thursday at 12:30 pm.