Data Analytics – Printer Activity (Part 1)

Today I received an email from the company I am being contracted to that they will be moving in a few months and they will be going from a 3 floor building to a single floor layout in 8 months. As of now we have 24 copy and print machines in the building that I actively manage daily. Just about every department has its own copy machine and some have small desktop printers in their office. According to the small conversation I had and a small glimpse of the floor plan we will be reducing our current load from 24 machines down to 7.

They are pretty set on the 7 machines which is the bare minimum equipment they think will actually be needed. This would include 1 machine in each corner of the floor and the 3 machines I will have in the print area. One of the (3) machines that will be in the print area will be a Large Format Color Plot, Large Format B/W Plotter and a Large Capacity Small Format Printer. On the perimeter they plan on using smaller capacity small capacity printers. In theory it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. You are going to go from 24 copy machines down to 7. Only 5 of the machines are small format print machines. That would reduce printing capabilities down to a 21:5 ratio that is a 76.19% reduction in available printers or you can view it as they keep 24% of their print capacity.

Math Explained:

 5/21 = .238095
1-.238095 = .761905
.761905 * 100 = 76.19

No that is just a quick and dirty way of figuring out the reduction in print capacity. What I would ideally like to do is get the actual print capacity of each of the printers and do that analysis based off that but it really is irrelevant for that we are doing at the moment.

Questions I want to answer

I have 5 preliminary questions I want to ask. This is the first part of becoming an analyst. Most of the times people will be coming to you with questions about problems they are having and want you to provide some type of data to back their decision. In my case my company is not really seeking the information they are just planning on making the move and hoping for the best. Obviously that’s not how I role at all. I started my thought process by picturing the actual copiers in my mind and saying what is the current process or use of the machine. And the answer is for me to send files from my desk to print and to walk up to it and make duplicate copies.

With that thought in mind I had 5 questions that popped into my head:

  1. How many low capacity copiers are needed to support the location?
  2. Which copiers would be best suited for the demand
  3. Cost basis per machine / Revenue per machine
  4. Which machines (departments) have the greatest print count monthly
  5. Are printing needs rising, falling are constant for the past 3 years

These are just the first few questions I wanted to answer, well in this case no one asked for the answer but I figured this would be an awesome way to show them the power of data analytics and data science in all areas of our business.

The First Challenge

The first challenge I knew that I would run into before I even started this venture was that I actually have no data. All the machines only show the current click count (the number of copies made) on the machines. There is no record I have that displays the data overtime. My company access is not that of accessing data like this so I knew I would have to:

  1. Find out where the data was located in the company.
  2. Who has access to this data
  3. What data was actually captured
  4. How can I get the data from where it is and into my hands

My first thought was that we are suppose to enter meter reads everyday although I found that they did automate most of the machines to get an auto update. I figured if there is a website we have to enter the meter reads on then there is someone that has a job of monitoring things and making sure they answer questions people would have with the meter reads. So I called our corporate office and asked to be transferred to the department that took care of “Meter Reads”, Meter Reads are the number tracking system that tells manufactures how many prints have been made on a machine. After talking to the person for a few minutes we determine what access I would need and she showed me how I could access the information that they could see on their computer. The person proceeded to give me the name of the person that could grant me access to the data system so as of now I am waiting for their reply…

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