On average, color prints cost between $0.07-$0.30 per print, a seemingly minuscule price that any business could bear.
But what happens when you consistently print in color, and the costs add up faster than you realized?
You’re left with a high printing bill and a puzzled look because you didn’t recognize how much color printing costs could run up your monthly print invoice.
As a print vendor with noted experience finding and dissecting customers’ print problems, we know how common it is for color overages to contribute to higher-than-normal print expenses.
Xerox, the company we partner with, has a standard feature that can be enabled on most of their devices called color tracking which could serve as a remedy for businesses that need to get a hold of their color printing costs.
In this blog, we’ll be going over what color tracking is, common reasons for color overages, how to set it up on your printer and why constantly monitoring color tracking is crucial to maintaining the feature on your machines.
What Is Color Tracking?
Color tracking is a part of Xerox Standard Accounting, which is a standard feature embedded in most Xerox printers and can be used to track and limit the number of color prints each user makes.
Its primary purpose is to control color printing costs, and it is free to incorporate for anybody that is a Xerox customer.
Read our blog about what color tracking is and its benefits to learn more.
How Color Tracking Works and How to Set It Up
Color tracking on Xerox machines works by attaining a unique code to enter into the printer anytime you need to make a color print. The code is exclusive to you and is created in the setup process.
Under color tracking guidelines, you will not need to enter a code for black-and-white prints or copies.
The process for enabling Xerox Standard Accounting, which is how you enable color tracking, is different for AltaLink and VersaLink machines. Here is the step-by-step process on how to set it up for both AltaLink and VersaLink printers:
Enabling Xerox Standard Accounting/Color Tracking for AltaLink Devices
Here is the step-by-step process on how to set up Xerox Standard Accounting and color tracking on your AltaLink printer:
Log into the machine using the Login button in the upper right corner as admin and go to Properties tab.
Under Login/Permissions/Accounting and choose Accounting Methods.
Click on the green icon and under the Current Accounting Method choose Xerox Standard Accounting from the dropdown box and save.
Under Configuration Settings select edit beside Service Tracking. Here you will select what features to track. Enable Color Tracking only will allow users to print and copy black and white without restriction while needing a code for color prints and copies. Select Save.
Select Edit beside Users & Limits. Here you will add new users. Under “Display Name”, enter in the user’s name. Then, under the User Name (User ID) enter an alphanumeric code up to 12 digits. The User ID will be what they enter when they use the machine.
Enabling Xerox Standard Accounting/Color Tracking for VersaLink Devices
Here is the step-by-step process on how to set up Xerox Standard Accounting and color tracking on your VersaLink printer:
Log into the machine using the Login button in the upper right corner as admin.
Click Permissions > Accounting Method.
Note: If you previously set up an accounting method, click Permissions > Accounting > Accounting Method.
In the Accounting Method area, for Xerox Standard Accounting, click Select.
Select Track All or Track Color Only, then click OK.
When prompted to restart the printer, click Change and wait for the printer to restart.
Creating a User Account
In the Embedded Web Server, log in as administrator and then click Permissions.
For User Accounts, click Add.
For User Name, type the User ID code.
Editing the Account Settings for Individual Users
In the Embedded Web Server, log in as administrator, then click Permissions.
In the User Accounts area, click a user name.
To set limits on the printer functions for the user, in the Accounting area. Click Edit. If you do not see the Accounting area under each user, make sure your Xerox Standard Accounting is enabled.
For each area, type the limits that you want to enforce. Click OK.
As evidenced by the limited number of steps, setting up color tracking is usually a seamless process that you can complete in no more than five minutes, assuming everything is working smoothly with your machine.
2 Common Explanations for Color Overages
Enabling color tracking on your machine doesn’t mean you won’t experience overages still, which is why continually monitoring color tracking is crucial to reaping the benefits of the feature.
Let’s go over the two fundamental reasons why you could still experience color overages even if color tracking is implemented, and how to avoid them:
As mentioned in the last section, color tracking works by creating and using a unique code to access color printing on your printer.
Say you’re the only one who has the code, but an employee comes up to you and seeks to make a color print.
Instead of getting up and making it yourself, you give the employee your code so he can conduct his color printing task himself.
A week later, that same employee that you shared the code with gives it to another employee that needed to make a color print.
The next day, the third employee that has the code gives it to a fourth employee that required a color print.
Noticing a trend?
Sharing your unique code can lead to a chain reaction of code sharing that can drive up color printing costs even if color tracking is incorporated into your workplace.
To circumvent the code-sharing conundrum, stress to your employees that the code is like a password and should not be shared. If somebody needs to make a color print, make it an office policy to notify the designated color tracking manager for access.
Machine Reset After a Service Call
It’s almost inevitable that your printer will need service work done during its product lifespan.
This will usually require the work of a service technician, and sometimes, the technician must reset the machine’s settings to fix an issue with the printer.
The resetting of your machine affects color tracking, and it will need to be re-enabled and configured after most machine resets. If color tracking is not re-enabled, it can result in color overages because you were under the false assumption that color tracking was still enabled when it wasn’t.
This is precisely why it’s imperative to continually keep an eye on color tracking settings if you’re a company that wants to control color prints.
If your printer just underwent service work, it is good practice to check your machine’s settings to make sure the feature you had previously enabled is still active.
Even if your machine didn’t undergo any service work, checking your color tracking settings every so often to make sure it’s still in use is a good sustainability habit to form so you’re not blindsided by an excessive printing bill.
Want A More Advanced Color Tracking Solution?
Color tracking is a useful way to control color printing costs and is a standard feature that is included on most color Xerox machines.
However, it is not the only way for you to track printing costs, and it does have some limitations.
Xerox’s standard accounting color tracking cannot be universally applied on all your machines, which means the feature must be implemented on a per-machine basis.
For companies who manage a large fleet of printers, installing color tracking on every machine you own would be tedious and time-consuming, which means it may not be a fit for businesses with an abundance of machines.
Instead, purchasing external print management software like Y-Soft or PaperCut would be the better option, since printing output can be managed from a single dashboard encompassing all your devices.
Our over 35 years in the printer industry have given us the insight to find solutions that help cut down on your printing costs, which is key to achieving a well-managed fleet.
If you need assistance with implementing Xerox’s standard color tracking feature or want to talk about investing in print management software like Y-Soft, reach out to us and we will find the solution that best fits your situation.