Industry Insight

One Card Printer, Endless Possibilities

ALTHOUGH security is often foremost on our minds these days, and security budgets sometimes trump many other organizational needs, dollars earmarked for security can stretch a lot further with a little imagination. For example, the card printer purchased to create employee identification badges for access control also can print event badges, promotional cards, information cards with phone numbers, or insurance information or even luggage tags. The uses for one card printer are virtually endless. With networking capabilities now added to many card printers, it can become available to many departments. Cost-conscious, creative organizations are already tapping their card printers for a variety of uses, adding value to their purchase.

Whether you're a printer dealer or a security manager who wants to buy a card printer, recognizing that printers can be leveraged for multiple purposes is a strong selling point.

Casino Card Printer Goes Beyond IDs
One organization that is maximizing its printer power is San Diego's Barona Casino. The casino is one of the largest in California with more than 125,000 square feet of alcohol-free gaming and hospitality space.

Like many other organizations that print their own photo ID badges, Barona uses its printers to identify hundreds of employees, as well as the service contract vendors it uses. However, the casino did not stop with this single card application.

The casino decided to upgrade its free Club Barona membership program by issuing personalized membership cards as guests arrive. Club members earn points good for cash back, free meals and merchandise, as well as other benefits.

Each member receives a plastic "credit" card with his or her name and membership number printed on the front. The cards are magnetically encoded for accepting and recording data, and automatically accumulate points as the cards are used. Members simply insert their cards into any machine they play and earn points for every dollar played on the slots, video keno machines and video poker. The cards also can be used at any of the table games.

The cards also are the key to tracking millions of gaming dollars, with all the information stored in the casino's centralized computer system database. This allows the casino to assess the popularity of individual machines and types of games, and to make equipment changes accordingly.

The printer is literally making money for the casino. Club Barona issued more than 250,000 personalized membership cards in the first year. A resounding success, the club membership program has led Barona to plan more uses for its printers, including gift and stored value cards.

Barona Casino shows how migration of print card applications provides a benefit to an organization through higher use of a security asset -- the card printer. Such programs also can strengthen ties to other departments in an organization, from marketing to finance. Cross-organizational efforts potentially yield better results than programs carried out in isolation because they encourage input from a variety of perspectives.

Cutting Costs, Increasing Convenience
Organizations that are continually short on budgets, such as public schools, also can greatly benefit from expanding their card printing programs beyond security functions.

At Cleveland Hill Union Free School District in Cheektawaga, N.Y., all 1,700 administrators, teachers, staff members and students have their own personalized color plastic badges with photo. The badges are printed on site. Besides serving as an ID to enter school grounds, the badges also help the district better administer breakfast and lunch programs along with library services.

"Custom printing our own cards makes a lot of sense for our district," said Cheryl Passmore, Cleveland Hill computer support specialist. "Wearing personalized badges makes our school grounds and facilities safer. We know a badge wearer belongs; those without a badge don't. The lack of a badge immediately raises a red flag and triggers a response.

"However, we also have leveraged the badges beyond their security role. The badges provide indications of any major medical problems such as seizures. And, by incorporating individual barcodes on each card, we have migrated the badges into additional applications that allow our district to run smoother, providing increased services to our students and parents."

All doors, except front main entrances, are opened just prior to school hours and during afternoon dismissal. All doors in all schools -- including the main doors -- remain locked at all times. To enter their schools, teachers, administrators and staff swipe the badges through barcode scanning readers. Once scanned, the door unlocks, and the adults can enter.

But the card uses don't stop at security.

When swiped by the cashier in the school cafeterias, a barcode on the badge tells if the student should pay full price, reduced price or not at all. Nobody can tell whether or not the state is assisting the student, even when they don't pay. That's because many of the parents pre-pay for their children's meals, eliminating the need for the student to carry lunch money. The system also tells the cashier if a child is allergic to certain foods.

Cleveland Hill cooks now know on a daily basis exactly what was purchased, so they can plan future meals based on the most popular items. Breakfast also is treated in a similar manner.

Students also use badges to check out books. Upon verification of the student's identification, a librarian scans the barcode, and the computer immediately provides an overview of what books the student may still possess and updates the system on what books are now being checked out.

Rock Falls Township High School in Illinois adds additional applications. Besides the library and inconspicuously denoting students who are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches, emergency contact information is printed on the back of the card. The cards indicate if the student is a freshman by using a different background color and, if the student is eligible for a bus ticket, the card says "bus."

Basketball is a particularly popular sport in Rock Falls, with the Runnin' Rockets games a major draw. The school uses the printer to create building passes and all-season sports passes that the public and parents can purchase. The Zebra printer creates similar passes for use by the school's various clubs.

Multiple Functions
Leveraging a security card printer beyond a single function is a win-win proposition for end users and dealers. As shown, a card printer can perform multiple functions in the same organization with ease. Today's card printers are packed with more features than ever, and their uses are virtually unlimited. Taking advantage of this built-in versatility just makes sense.


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