Monday, June 20, 2011

SQL To The Rescue

As I continue to close up the last of the minor issues with the new GNOME desktop, I decided to quickly implement a dialog that appears after you log into the server. The print cost database is now loading information completely via cron and the numbers are astonishing. We have departmental printers and costs are high. I can't imagine the costs in Governmental agencies that have desktop printers. Be assured that we are doing everything possible to save tax payer dollars here at Largo. This kind of stuff drives me crazy!

For the first time, when users log in they are made aware of their print consumptions. As you can see, I don't print very often. :)

And the SQL to perform this query took just a few minutes:

We are still settling in on a value for the cost of a theoretical 100% coverage. The cost per page that they quote you is always for 5% coverage. So 2 cents a page @ 5% coverage is around 40 cents per fully printed page. That value is multiplied times the coverage rate and number of pages.


Anonymous said...

don't forget the cost of the actual paper :-)

Charon said...

This is ingenious!
I would love to have something like this for our users which "accidently" print their stuff on color printers...

Anonymous said...

Interesting feedback loop, here!

A couple of thoughts and questions popped up in my head. Sorry if there are a lot. I've read back through your printer-related posts, and I hope I'm not asking anything you've already answered. The reason I'm asking is because I spent 5 years as IT helpdesk lackey and head printer tech at a state environmental agency.

1) Your mention of cost per page math confused me at first (and second, and third), but now that I re-read your printer posts I think I've got it now...

You took HP's stated cost ($0.02 @ 5%) and multiplied it by 20 to get $0.40 @ 100%. Then on a print job, you multiply that by the estimated page coverage and number of pages. Am I right?

I'll give you that 5% is not accurate, but it's also not a fantasy measurement (see: iPod song ratings). For B&W text-only printouts, it's closer to the real average we calculated. I'm interested to see what your org's average coverage rate is, if you don't mind posting it.

2) When you come up with these costs per page, are you adjusting for legal-size prints, tabloid-size prints, and COM10 envelopes?

3) How are you calculating the cost of color printers (if you have any)?

4) You keep mentioning these are estimates, and I respect that... Have you also gone to the beancounters (accounting dept) for any hard printer cost data? Presumably, they would be able to break out the cost of printer consumables. Also in the category of hard data is page counts per toner cartridge.

5) I just want to echo Anonymous's mention of the cost of paper in the print cost calculation. :-)

6) Have you looked into any alternatives, such as so-called "eco-fonts", encouraging printers to use smaller type, or re-using paper?

7) While you're making the case for this, make sure to point out the reduced TCO of the printers. Even if you keep them all, with fewer print jobs they can go into power save more often (fuser is a power HOG); you push fewer pages, so they wear out slower; and maintenance costs go down.

Keep up the great work, and the great posts! My eyes always brighten up when I see a post here. :-)

Dave Richards said...

The HP sites indicate that those prices include the consumables which I assumed to be the paper as well. But I need to verify that for sure. If that price doesn't include paper...then our costs are even higher.

1) That is correct, no print job would be 100%, but I needed a baseline value to do the math. It's 100% x coverage x number of pages. We estimated coverage based on the application being used; HP provides some pictures of what the various coverage rates look like and just did a best guess. There are tools that give you the exact coverage, but didn't want to spend that much time on this project.

2) No estimates were made for bigger paper size and color printers. So our page totals are right, but once again our costs are probably on the low side. Not enough hours to spend making the software that detailed. Our Director feels comfortable telling management that these numbers are on the low side and don't include some of those higher cost options.

3) As mentioned, color printers are not taken into account. Lots of things sent to color printer are in black and white. So we are on the conservative side of the numbers.

4) The math is right if the HP numbers are correct. I assumed that probably they underestimate the costs because it's to their advantage to do so. Our business analyst reviewed the numbers quickly and seems to feel they are not misleading. Again it comes down to the amount of time one wants to spend on the project. I feel that we are on the low side of things.

5) I assumed HP had the cost of paper in the total, will confirm that.

6) Options to reduce cost will be explored. The problem right now is that users and some higher ups don't see that this is a problem. They consider it a "cost of doing business". A strong mandate would have to come down from the top to change habits. Government tends not to run like the private sector where cost saving is paramount.

7) Yup we certainly understand physical printer costs. These numbers don't include the 1-2 man hours a day spent keeping all of the printers running. People send errant print jobs all the time, and get things backed up with problems. It's really a lot of work.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget - when you use paper, the paper companies plant new trees, so you are kind of saving the planet. :) By printing.

Anonymous said...

planting new trees? you've got to be kidding me. for the most part they're just cutting down primary forest in russia, china and south america.