Print Spooler Software Automates Printer Failover Allowing Multiple Laser Printers to Do the Job of a Large Xerox Printer

by Nathania Heckert - Date: 2007-01-19 - Word Count: 1062 Share This!

In this case study, we will explore how a company with a large, centralized printing system was able to replace this expensive to run, maintain and staff, Xerox printer, with multiple network attached lasers. Through the automated failover of our advanced print spooler, the network printers can run unattended and allow the customer to replace the high costs of a large printer as well as the cost of operations personnel who previously managed the nighttime batch printing.

Note: The OM Plus advanced print spooler, automated printer failover functionality can be used in many different scenarios to streamline document driven business processes. Contact Plus Technologies for more details.

Company - This Company is a USA based manufacturing company with facilities in dozens of locations around the world. They run SAP on HP-UX systems in their headquarters based data center.

Business Problem - Like many enterprises, this company was printing large quantities of documents (invoices, credit memos, etc.) every night on a large, centralized printer from Xerox. The process they followed called for them to run documents such as invoices, credit memos etc. during the business day and hold them for batch printing at night. At the end of the business day, a nighttime operator would access the SAP system and manually select a range of documents (i.e. invoices for example) to be released to the Xerox printer. This process was then repeated throughout the night for each different type of document that had been created during the day. The business problem that they faced was fairly simple. The Xerox printer was expensive to run due to the cost of the maintenance contract, supplies and the people required to run it. They wanted to reduce the cost associated with printing these types of transactional documents with a lower cost solution that included less expensive network laser printers and fewer staff.

Key Technical Challenge - The customer wanted to reduce their expenses by replacing a single, large Xerox printer with multiple smaller network lasers. Since the printing was to be done after hours, the lasers needed to run in unattended mode. These multiple printers required implementing and advanced print spooler with automated failover without any changes to their application environment. Secondly, all document types needed to be physically batched together and needed to print in the order they were created by the system to ensure timely and efficient post-printing distribution.

In the past, the on-site print operator manually released jobs held within the SAP system so they always knew what jobs were in each batch run by what they had selected from the list of jobs to run. For example, the operator could access the system and select all invoices that were being held and release them to the printer. If a print job or the printer failed, the operator would be there to manually resolve the problem and re-print the job ensuring that there was no delay in mailing the time critical documents such as invoices.

This manual re-print process was very time consuming and error prone. The operator would have to manually search potentially thousands of documents. Invoices could be printed twice or worse, not printed at all.

Technical Solution -The technical solution implemented at this customer was based on OM Plus, the Advanced Print Spooling and Print Management solution from Plus Technologies. The OM Plus print spoolerreceives all of the SAP print jobs during the day and automatically manages the distribution of the jobs in like document bundles (i.e. document types such as invoices and credits are held together for release that night). OM Plus then automatically releases the jobs and balances the load across multiple network laser printers. OM Plus handles the failover of print jobs in an automated fashion from one printer to another in case of a printer failure (at the next page of the failed job) all while sending emails and/or pages to the operations staff to notify them of problems.

OM Plus Process Flow During the On-Line Day<

  1. Document is created and "printed" to OM Plus

  2. OM Plus automatically searches the document and determines what type of document it is. OM Plus then directs the document to a holding location within OM Plus based on document type.

  3. All documents are held in this manner by document type until the close of the On-Line day.

OM Plus Process Flow During the Nightly Printing

  • OM Plus automatically starts the printing process by printing a document type to printer A, then another type to printer B etc and keeps this process going in a "round robin" fashion until all the documents are printed. Any time a document type is finished printing, a "completed" job separator page is inserted as the last page; OM Plus will then start another document type on that printer. The "completed" job separator page makes it very easy for the staff to divide the pages up into piles of different document types for delivery to their mailing operation.

  • If a job or printer fails to properly complete, OM Plus will automatically re-direct the job to another printer, insert a "re-directed" job separator page (the customer uses a different color paper to easily identify the job separator page) and then print the rest of the job until it is complete.

  • Whenever a failover process occurs, OM Plus sends an email/page to the operations staff notifying them of the problem.

  • When the staff divides up the pages into physical piles the next day, the re-directed job separator page visually identifies the point where a job has been re-directed so the staff can easily combine it with the first part of the print job before delivering it to their mailing operation.

  • Implementation - On site services including installation, system configuration, testing and user training was delivered by service engineers from Plus Technologies to this customer. In this case, the implementation was completed and in production within two to three weeks of the order. As is the case with many implementations of our products, the customer requirements for handling of the documents and the processes associated with the documents evolved during the implementation. Due to the extremely flexible nature of OM Plus' configurability, our service engineers were able to address additional document delivery challenges the customer had while on-site.

    Plus Technologies Case Studies- The Plus Technologies case study series includes real examples of how companies use Advanced Spooling Solutions to streamline operations, reduce cost and/or add functionality to existing business processes. For more information on these case studies, contact Plus Technologies.

    Related Tags: document management, print spooler, print spooling, print management, print spooling solution, print spooler solutions, print spooler management, print management solution, print management solutions

    Nathania Heckert
    Cable Markers

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