When thinking about the U.S. Army, images of soldiers in combat are usually the first that come to mind. However, the Army is more than just squadrons of soldiers – it’s a well-oiled machine, full of processes that make it all run smoothly. And at the center of it all is the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Headquarters, the command center of the U.S. Army, where officials oversee the training of Army forces, develop operational principles and construct new weapons systems. With 33 schools and 16 Army installations it’s no surprise that we have an immense technology infrastructure ranging from security to wireless access to printing.

In 2010, TRADOC relocated from Fort Monroe (Hampton, Va.) to Fort Eustis (Fort Eustis, Va., pictured above), and was charged with consolidating its 32 different printer manufacturers, including approximately 1,300 printers spread across 32 buildings for 2,300 users. We were also tasked with creating a more efficient print infrastructure, reducing printing costs, and improving document security and compliance, all while enhancing the user experience – and all with a single vendor.

After researching our options, we selected Lexmark to optimize our printing environment.

As a first step, we analyzed the output environment and assessed the needs of our employees in terms of document capture and output. During this process we discovered that we needed to decrease the number of physical printers, increase the number of multifunctional printers (MFPs) and quell security concerns.

As a result of this analysis, we were able to decrease costs and improve efficiency across the organization. TRADOC now operates 274 output devices, which is 79% fewer than the 1,300 devices we managed before. Of these 274 devices, only 60 are desktop printers that are not connected to the network. The rest are networked MFPs that are shared and equipped with scanning, copying, faxing and printing capabilities. The smaller print fleet reduces costs and is much more easily managed. Because we replaced outdated printers, the new fleet also gives our employees access to faster printing speeds, with better color output and print quality.

Before our move to Fort Eustis, documents at TRADOC were frequently left on printers that were located in high-traffic areas, which made it possible for confidential information to get into the wrong hands. We needed a better way to keep sensitive information safe, including social security numbers, banking information and weapons development plans.

Under the consolidation, we also deployed Lexmark MFPs and created a secure printing environment through Print Release. Print Release enables our employees to print from their computers to the printer that is most convenient or that has the capabilities they need for a particular job, instead of requiring them to print only to one device. It works by sending the print job to a print queue in the cloud and then allowing the user to “pull” the job from any output device on the network.

Now when a user sends a print job to the queue, the MFP verifies his or her identity. Then, before picking up the document, the user must swipe his or her CAC (Common Access Card) at the printer for authentication in order for the print job to be released and printed. This way pages don’t sit in public view and can only be retrieved by authorized personnel. Scanning and faxing also require identification.

Security aside, Print Release also enables TRADOC to reduce excess printing. Think about how many times you’ve printed a PowerPoint presentation or Word document only to find a mistake before even leaving your desk to pick up the job. With Print Release, it’s possible to fix the mistake and print the job again without wasting paper. If a user doesn’t pick up a job in a specified period of time, the MFP automatically deletes it from the queue. This results in fewer pages printed overall, reducing the costs and environmental impact of paper, toner and maintenance.

When it comes to actual operating costs, the Lexmark Output management printer solution has allowed us to achieve cost savings across the board, whether with sustainability, redundancy, or efficiency efforts. Print release allows us to delete items from the print queue, leading to fewer printed pages. Fewer pages means we change toner and add paper to the printers less often, resulting in lower incidents of failure among our machines. The overall result being that we spend less money on printing expenses as a whole.

With its move to Fort Eustis complete, TRADOC now enjoys optimized output devices, enhanced security, and reduced costs. TRADOC is also looking forward to leveraging its printing, imaging and document-routing capabilities as it continues to shape future generations of soldiers.

Fred McKinnon is employed by TRADOC as an IT Specialist. He is responsible for TRADOC headquarters output management services.