Manage Printers and Copiers with User Authentication, Account Tracking

Laser printers and multifunction copiers have been around for quite some time, and theControlling printing by user and department technology associated with these types of office equipment continues to increase in sophistication. As part of a managed print services plan, many companies use them to control printing costs.

I’ve invited John Sedlak, our IT director, to explain how printer and copier user authentication and account tracking work.

Printer User Authentication and How It Works
User authentication via PIN (personal identification number) codes essentially allows you to manage who is permitted to use a particular copier or printer and to set their rights and limits. Your system administrator can assign a PIN to each employee or user with specific parameters that allow, deny or limit various types of usage. Examples include:

  • Allow black printing/copying, but not color. This one is very popular since color printing/copying is more costly.
  • Allow black printing/copying up to a certain amount, then deny.
  • Allow copying, but deny printing (or vice versa).

An additional benefit of user authentication is secure printing, which permits users to embed a PIN code in their print driver properties when they print. Their print job is then handed off to the copier or printer and held in secure memory at the machine. To release their print job, users must input their PIN code at the copier control panel, ensuring the secure document is received by the intended user.

There are other ways to assign PIN codes, such as embedding them in a user’s print driver or requiring them for every print job from a given PC. Many multifunction copiers will accept an employee ID badge (swipe card) or RFID (radio frequency identification) key fob in lieu of a PIN code.

PIN codes can be  permanently embedded in a user’s print driver, or a user may be required to enter a PIN code for every print job.  Additionally, many multifunction copiers can be outfitted to read an employee ID badge (swipe card) or RFID (radio frequency identification) key fob in lieu of a PIN code.

Copier Account Tracking and How It Works
Account tracking works in conjunction with user authentication as the reporting side of the equation. This feature allows you to review user data at any time (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) through the copier’s web interface or by printing reports.  The most common fields reported are:

  • User (PIN and employee name)
  • Number of black and white copies or prints
  • Number of color copies or prints.

Essentially, this tells you who used the machine and how much he or she used it. This can be very beneficial if you need to do individual or departmental bill backs for printing and copying costs or to set limits on users or departments. Your administrator can set these limits and restrictions for each type of printing and copying.

If you are looking for ways to control your costs, this is an excellent way to start!  In most cases, the user authentication and account tracking features are a native part of your machine.  They just need set up and configured.  Instructions are located in your operation manual, or you can call our service department for assistance.

If you’re ready to optimize your print services, user authentication and account tracking will certainly help!

Categories: IT, Technology