A year after Bytes Document Solutions was awarded the tender for and assumed the office printing requirements of South African Airways (SAA), the company has achieved and maintained a 34% savings in total costs and a 24-hour response commitment for the national carrier.

Bytes Document Solutions, distributor of Xerox products to 24 sub-Saharan countries, consolidated the carrier’s number of devices from over 1 500 networked deskjet and laser printers to 343 mid- to high-volume multifunction devices serving 5 000 users.
“In addition to the consolidation exercise, Bytes Document Solutions also proactively manages all the devices across the network, including toner and paper use,” says Sudesh Maharaj, SAA site manager, Xerox Global Services at Bytes Document Solutions.
“Saving on paper has become an important cost saver for the airline. It also helps us in our efforts to contribute towards a greener future,” says Mike Re, SAA CIO.
The Xerox distributor standardised on a combination of certain device types centralised in departments throughout SAA’s national offices, including the OR Tambo campus, Illovo in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban.
Maharaj says the company uses multifunction devices for high-volume black and white and colour printing.
“The black and white multifunction devices are producing 70 000 to 100 000 images per month,” he says, “and we perform some load balancing on a regular basis. After monitoring usage, we moved some devices to different departments if their print volumes were too low and vice versa. We’re able to ensure that the machines are always productive through constant monitoring enabled by auditing software.”
Maharaj’s team also uses the management software to proactively re-supply toners and paper to printers before they run out, so ensuring uninterrupted operations.
End-user printed page security and printed page waste were also concerns for SAA, and the system resolves these through user authentication at the point of printing.
“SAA employees swipe their access cards at the printer, which then brings up a list of their print jobs on the device,” says Maharaj.
"They can select which print jobs they want to run right at the device and delete the ones they no longer wish to print. That has helped to reduce paper and toner usage because people sometimes realise that they don’t need to run a certain print job when they get to the printer.”
Paper use is also closely monitored and has accounted for significant savings: paper variance at certain of SAA’s facilities was more than halved by November 2008 through effective paper management.
“We compare the physical paper loaded into devices with the number of pages printed and report the discrepancy back to the cost centre managers at SAA,” says Maharaj.
Another requirement of SAA was the ability to bill the end-user for all printing and copies made. This was accomplished by implementing an output management software application accompanied by the card swipe at each device.
He says that has not only been beneficial in terms of cost, but it has also made SAA a more environmentally responsible paper user.
Bytes Document Solutions has also worked with various departments to promote better paper use.
Maharaj says the rollout was an enormous undertaking implemented without any major problems. The project was split into two phases: phase one was the deployment of printers, setting them up for printing, and training users. Phase two was the rollout of the output management software, device management software, card release terminals at each printer and a Secure Release Here print operation. Secure Release Here enables users to release jobs at any like-model printer in demarcated areas.
Many print challenges were overcome during installation and setup due to the complex SAA environment. There was no one print solution to meet all of the carrier’s needs as certain areas had very specific requirements. With lessons learned from previous large implementations, the software team was able to meet SAA’s print requirements.
“Change management is always a big obstacle for large projects and we had to ensure that the technical staff were well versed in the new environment, that users were educated and their expectations managed in terms of how the new, centralised environment operated,” says Maharaj.
“In addition, end-users were using multifunction devices that can scan, copy, fax and print as opposed to small retail-style printers on their desks and we trained the SAA users to use all the additional functionality at their disposal. We also provide ongoing training to all new employees."