At a time when businesses are constantly reminded of their legal and social obligations to reduce energy consumption, it is perhaps surprising to see research published in a whitepaper stating that reducing energy consumption remains a key challenge for 45% of organisations.

The free whitepaper, entitled ‘A sustainable print agenda’, surveyed companies in the UK, Germany and France to establish their technology-related energy consumption concerns, what policies they have put in place and whether their attempts to save energy have been successful.

Today, organisations face increasing legislative pressure from the Climate Change Act and CRC Energy Efficiency schemes to cap their carbon emissions. Across some countries in Europe, this is a mandatory requirement to report. Despite these pressures, something is still going awry if just under 50% of organisations are still struggling.

Managing Your MFP Assets

A clue as to why so many companies state controlling energy consumption is a challenge, could possibly be found in another statistic from the report. It states that 55% of respondents do not possess insight into their Multifunction Print (MFP) and paper use.

Given the increasing role MFPs play in document capture (through scanning) and document output (through print and copy) and the overall workflow process in many of today’s company’s, that stat is surprising. In addition to having energy and environmental implications, this lack of insight has implications for both a company’s energy consumption and its environmental impact. Critically, it also has implications on other aspects of MFP use, such as unmonitored and escalating consumable and paper costs.

So what’s behind the lack of discipline with respect to MFP use? Once again, it’s a blend of human behaviour and established working practices and a failure to make the most of an MFP’s energy saving functions or other tools that are available to manage print more effectively. For instance, while an encouraging 80% of organisations have a print policy in place, only a third strictly enforce it.

It has been said time and again that policies are worthless if not enforced; sometimes it’s because whoever is responsible for the policy hasn’t updated it, rendering it ineffective or obsolete, or it’s the case the staff just ignore it, with no penalty for doing so. In fact, the survey stated that 36% of UK businesses that said they had one, said enforcing a print policy was one of the main challenges they faced in managing their existing print infrastructure.

Further inefficiencies are driven by poorly considered or managed print fleets. For instance, only 20% of large organisations are routing large print jobs to the most appropriate device for that task. Although the survey doesn’t report this, it is not unreasonable to infer from this that colour dense, high-volume print runs, are probably being sent to the most expensive to run printer and one that’s probably better suited to smaller print tasks.

Other efficiency-related oversights include over 50% of companies not having rules in place to regulate the use of colour printing. It is easy to make a printer default to mono, which saves ink (thus money), or to reduce mono print consumption by removing footers when printing emails.

A Disciplined Approach To Printing

Print management solutions – aligned with energy efficient multi-functional printers – address the pressures highlighted in the whitepaper by helping organisations reduce print costs and print volumes by identifying and eliminating non-essential printing.

Reduced printing has the added benefit of helping organisations achieve their energy efficiency goals, while reducing their financial and environmental waste. One example cited in the whitepaper proves the value a print management solution can offer. It explains how an NHS Trust saved £36,000 in print costs using print management and imaging solutions to bring their print usage under financial control.

Overall, the research paints two pictures. The first is that organisations finally grasp the impact that unmanaged print and poor printing habits have on their businesses and the environment. The second is that they are taking initiatives to reduce their print output and costs, albeit with mixed results.

Improvements to the progress they have made so far can be accelerated through the deployment of print management solutions, particularly at a time when the role of MFPs is evolving from that of primarily being an output device, to that of being a scan and capture device that’s at the heart of an organisation’s document workflow process.