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Cutting down the paper trail - By ALLAN KOAY

One college shows the way in saving paper.

ON the 10th floor of Inti College’s corporate offices in Subang Jaya, Selangor, there are only two printers, or more accurately, multi-function devices. Clearly, those days of having at least four individual machines to fax, scan, copy and print are slowly but surely becoming a distant memory.

Zulaifah Abdul Ghani, Inti Education Group chief financial officer, is showing me one of these multi-function devices which can carry out those four abovementioned tasks, and more, such as sending scanned documents directly to one’s e-mail. In fact, all staff members’ e-mail addresses have been programmed into the machine and are just a touchscreen away when one needs to send a document their way.

Of course, devices such as this are no longer a rare sight in today’s offices. But what catches my attention is how none of the 40 staff members on the floor comes to use the device to print or do anything else all the time we are there. The 40 share two of these devices and the situation is the same on the other floors.

Asked how many printers they used to have in their offices before this new green initiative, Zulaifah replies: “Oh, we had many. In the past, the ratio was about five persons to one printer.”

About three months ago, Inti signed a partnership with Ricoh for its devices and managed print services and solutions. Zulaifah says Inti will gradually phase out the use of other devices provided by other vendors. This, she says, is part of Inti’s initiative to become a green organisation.

“The solution provided by Ricoh gives us a very transparent view of our document production costs,” says Zulaifah. “So, we can monitor every single printing activity that goes on and cut down on wastage.”

Ricoh’s managed print services assess a company’s costs and productivity, and then make recommendations on ways to lower costs and at the same time maintain or increase productivity. They look into the number of devices such as printers, copiers and fax machines, that are needed, and also how these devices can be fully utilised in an efficient manner. Other matters such as maintenance and supplies management are also studied.

According to Ricoh, there is also a green advantage whereby people will use less energy, paper and toner. Overall, an organisation that implements a managed print services programme can reduce costs by about 30% and environmental impact by up to 60%.

Zulaifah says in the past most people had a small printer, but now it is limited to only certain areas in the building. For example, for confidentiality purposes, Zulaifah has one in her office while the human resource department also has its own. All other small devices have been removed.

“I can print from my desk to the device outside which is shared, but for the most part, we don’t print if we can scan and e-mail the document so that less paper is used,” says Zulaifah. “Also, that will help us reduce wastage, downtime caused by maintenance, electricity costs as well as CO2 emission by 50% over the next five years.”

Staff members are encouraged to print on used paper, and the integration of fax machine, printer and scanner into one device enables major reductions in electricity usage. Inti expects to hit close to 20% savings on paper, maintenance and other costs.The reduction of paper use and Inti’s green initiatives don’t just involve printers. As part of the bigger picture of conservation, Inti is fully utilising what digital technology has to offer. Everyone, both staff and students, are encouraged to have a laptop or notebook.

“We are wi-fi-enabled on every campus,” Zulaifah explains. “We also have a scheme for students to purchase notebooks at a discount. We encourage them to have their own laptops, and they can access the Internet throughout the campus. Even as a guest, you can come in to the campus and use the Internet on your laptop. Whenever we are at work, we carry our laptops too.”

No one, she says, carries paper into meetings. Everything one needs is already available digitally, and staff members just have to access Inti’s server to be able to share or present documents. Gone are the days when photocopies of each document have to be made for everyone.

“When we go for meetings, we carry only our laptops,” says Zulaifah.

When the senior management has a meeting, they all have access to the minutes and are able to update them concurrently during the meeting. Also, most of them have Blackberrys, so the calendars are also available there.

“We are also going into what is known as Inti Online and e-campus,” says Zulaifah. “In terms of lecture notes, timetables, notices and all that, they will be disseminated through such facilities. No more paper being posted everywhere or calendars being distributed. Internally, we are on Google Docs, so our Powerpoint presentations and such are shared on Google. We update all our minutes on Google documents, so we don’t have to print anything.”

Another major initiative, she says, is the use of video-conferencing technology. In applying leading-edge technology, it reduces travelling time, she adds. “We have the ability to have face-to-face communication through video-conferencing. For example, if we need to have conferences with our staff or students at Inti University in Nilai, if we were to commute, it would take us 45 minutes. But through video-conferencing, it saves us travelling costs and most importantly, time.

“Similarly for student communication on campus, we can be in any area and still have that facility. It is the same for campuses in Sabah, Sarawak and Penang, and even our headquarters in Baltimore (in the United States). There is no paper movement.”

Inti is moving towards a full-fledged student information system, she adds, and when that is in place, the enrolment process itself will be fully automated and that will again eliminate the use of paper.

“Inti believes it has to ensure environmental sustainability for future generations,” says Zulaifah. “We hope that all these efforts that we put in will help to reduce our carbon footprints.”

Sentuhan Bayu : I'm glad that more & more local companies are taking more green initiatives. I'm waiting for our government office to do the same.

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