Solving the Challenges of Printer Jams, Card Waste, and Long Lines at the One Card Office

NC State University One Card offices face tough challenges trying to serve tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff. Every person needs an ID card to access various aspects of campus life, from entering residence halls and other buildings to linking to debit accounts and proving student status to participate in university activities. One Card office challenges include improving printer efficiency, reducing card waste, and eliminating the hassles of having to visit one central location to pick up cards.

Each of these problems can be solved with a cloud-based issuance platform and printers based on today’s more eco-friendly and energy-efficient retransfer technologies.  

Campuses Depend on Their Cards

Anyone familiar with One Card offices knows that issues with card quality or delivery can be debilitating. One of the most painful problems is printer hardware that either jams or simply can’t keep pace with growing One Card demand. Another problem is hardware that misprints cards or fail to reproduce images with high quality.

One university that experienced this pain first-hand is NC State. According to Chris Dunham, Director of IT, Campus Enterprises, NC State University was enduring significant delays in issuing cards to new students, and had to dispose of almost 10% of its cards every week because of misprints or quality issues. Staff had to watch its batch-printing processes closely to catch misprints and fix printer jams. Even with close monitoring, the university on an annual basis was still wasting thousands of its dual-tech ID cards that feature a high-resolution photo image and fully embedded stamp and seal. Particularly frustrating was the fact that they had invested in high-definition cameras but could not print at the same quality as the images they were capturing.

In addition to solving hardware issues, NC State wanted to deliver a better issuance experience for their users, and especially today’s Gen Z students who are generally digital natives that have had lifelong access to technology. These students expect a combination of speed, convenience and accessibility that can only be provided with a cloud-based secure credential program. The more student enrollment grew at NC State, the greater the urgency to solve these problems of chronic printing delays, poor card quality, excessive card waste, and cumbersome issuance experience.

Building a Better One Card Office

Solving printer jams and quality issues are generally the first challenges for a One Card office to address. This can be accomplished by replacing earlier printer technologies with today’s eco-friendly and energy-efficient desktop retransfer alternatives. The latest offerings deliver significantly faster print speeds. They use 600 dpi resin printing to produce high-definition ID cards that combine brilliant color and sharp images with the ability to print small text, complex characters and crisply defined barcodes—all in less than 60 seconds. These types of printers also minimize cost by supporting high-yield, full-color ribbon and laminate consumables.

Deploying this type of printer at its One Card office enabled NC State to achieve 99% cost savings by eliminating its jamming and misprint problems. Its Wolfpack One Card office reduced card waste from 10% in 2019 to an almost negligible 0.16% in 2021. The university has since produced over 40,000 cards and plans to deploy additional printers in satellite locations, including its research center.

The next step for simplifying its One Card operations is to adopt a cloud-based card issuance model that expedites both local and remote card issuance. This creates a seamless experience for both the issuer and the recipient. Today’s solutions contain everything required for securely using a campus One Card accessed via a laptop, tablet, mobile phone or any other internet-connected device.

One of the primary advantages of cloud-based issuance is that it provides a distributed issuance process, but in a centralized way. This ensures that administrators can create a new card, issue a replacement card and manage print queues from any location to any print location. This type of approach has provided NC State with a more convenient and real-time remote ID card provisioning, issuance and printing solution while improving the end-to-end experience. There was no software to install, which means that NC State can scale up its One Card office whenever necessary by adding carding stations either on or off campus.

NC State found this remote issuance approach to be especially effective during the pandemic. It gave the university the flexibility to print contactless smart cards wherever they wanted. Wolfpack One Card office administrators could be confident in card security since all IDs and cards were inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. Additionally, all print jobs received at a remote location after normal operating hours would remain locked down until an authorized employee authenticated to the console and allowed them to print. These security benefits continue to be valuable post-pandemic.

Acing the Secure Issuance Assignment

University campuses like NC State often spend a substantial amount of time and resources struggling with unreliable printers and associated ID card waste and secure-issuance inefficiencies. With the latest print technology and a cloud-based remote issuance platform, they can streamline their operations, remove card waste and many layers of unnecessary costs, and achieve superior card quality.

At the same time, these upgrades to a modern cloud based One Card office solution make it easy to scale operations to handle growing print volumes and incorporate future technologies as needed. The distributed issuance capabilities and centralized management of these solutions are especially valuable during new student orientation and each time a new semester begins, reducing wait times and giving students the kind of digital experience, they have come to expect.

Kratika Sangal is the Director of Marketing Communications & Channel Marketing, Secure Issuance, at HID.

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