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The scene: paper is king

Paper continues to be a part of the modern workplace. For all the enthusiasm around digital documents, paper in many ways remains a superior technology. It can be issued at a moment’s notice, handovers are simple, and there is a certainty and comfort that comes with paper’s physical touch. Paper means business.

Uniplate, a global leader in the production, processes and development of number plates, as well as their required equipment, uses a reasonable amount of paper. The end users include Falcon’s employees. Falcon is the leading supplier of raw materials to the imaging industry that Uniplate acquired in 2005. The group collectively prints between 2,000 and 3,000 invoices a day across its 15 branches and two agents.

This excludes other paperwork routinely generated by the businesses.

Uniplate and Falcon rely on paper and consequently use a vast and intricate printing ecosystem. But as is often the case, this ecosystem got out of hand as different vendors, models and leasing contracts became involved.

 The problem: too high a cost, too little action

If pages aren’t printed, business often crunches to a halt. This is evident by people milling around a dysfunctional printer complaining about the holdup. When the document is an invoice, quote or another important piece of transactional record, it can translate into customer frustration.

Uniplate’s printing ecosystem had several issues such as fracturing across models and vendors that was a drain on cost and efficiencies. Specific users were also explicitly associated with specific printers, meaning if a specific device was unavailable those users had nowhere else to go.

“We looked at who we can partner with to give us an efficient solution as well as at the very integrated stack approach. When we went out to look at the process, most companies wanted to take over the business and refinance existing debt with our current printer devices, whereas ITEC was more solution driven,” says Devendran Naicker, Uniplate MD.

 Uniplate required document security features and improved management that would complement the Syspro ecosystem which issues documents and achieves Uniplate’s goal of functioning through the right financial prism. Finally, the many printers not only had different economic demands, but were also tied to different leasing agreements, causing administrative issues.

The solution: follow the user

Simply replacing the printers was not going to cut it. Uniplate opted to use ITEC’s holistic services-based approach to create an integrated solution spanning Uniplate’s businesses.

The solution addressed three core challenges: roaming user rights, management systems and security.

Now a travelling employee can board a flight in Durban while issuing a print order and the documents are ready and waiting on arrival in Cape Town.

Privacy and other rights can be controlled so that for example director’s or human resources’ sensitive pages won’t accidentally land at the wrong printer and in the hands of a random passerby, and colour copies are restricted to those with permissions.

Lastly, if one printer is unavailable, employees can seamlessly switch to another, thanks to new printer hubs in which ITEC further reduced the number of different printer models down to three, enabling Uniplate to save on toner and other material costs.

All this was accomplished in tandem with another requirement: Uniplate didn’t want the cost of replacing all their machines at once, especially if that would cause duplications of leasing agreements. ITEC was able to stagger the deployment of the ecosystem over 18 months.

“One of the challenges was that they were engaged in multiple rental agreements. Bringing in ITEC finance to uplift and manage the devices allowed us to do a blank uplifting tool and apply a national solution in one go,” says Kevin Johnston, ITEC.

The improved system introduced by ITEC continued to support incumbent machines to the level of their SLAs and then transitioned into the newer devices. This process also helped Uniplate’s businesses to replace its remaining multi-fold dot matrix printers to one-paper systems.

The results speak for themselves: Uniplate now has a reliable, integrated, rights-managed and modern printing environment that spans its branches. It was able to hugely reduce its cost burden, eliminate device fracturing and reign in multiple lease agreements to be under one provider, ITEC. The relationship has continued into provisioning PABX and power supply solutions. One provider, one family of solutions, and one happy customer – that’s the ITEC way.

“I would more than recommend Itec, especially Leonard and his team. The amount of support and service they provided across the whole transition period – I’ve not always been easy with them, so for them to put up with the staggered implementation and managed the system for us – they have really delivered 100 percent for us,” concludes Devendran Naicker, Uniplate MD.