Cloud-based ID software and retransfer printers streamline workflows for card office and students
North Carolina State University recently overhauled its card issuance operation, and turned to identity credential, issuance, and hardware solutions provider, ColorID, to land on the right solution. Together with ColorID, NC State selected HID Global’s FARGO Connect cloud-based card issuance platform.
It can be difficult for campuses to "break the cycle" of sticking with an existing solution or provider for fear of making large, complicated changes. But this wasn’t the case for leadership in the Wolfpack One Card office.
“NC State leaned into the experience,” says Mark Degan, Director of Corporate Marketing at ColorID. “Campuses can get caught in a holding pattern but making changes to the issuance environment can be a lighter lift than you think.”
As part of the consulting process, ColorID provided guidance and support to help NC State transition from its existing, outdated ID software. Additionally, the university was leaning on unreliable card printers, so it became clear that a migration to a modern, comprehensive issuance solution was vital.
With FARGO Connect, we’ve decreased card waste substantially and had at least 90% of new cards printed and ready to be issued weeks before students first arrive on campus
“Previously, NC State issued cards using a solution that was fraught with issues,” says Chris Dunham, IT Director, Campus Enterprises at North Carolina State University. “Everything from card jams, misprints, and ribbon issues regularly plagued the card office. We were losing about 10% of our cardstock annually, which yielded a loss of around $24,000.”
After discussing options with ColorID, it became increasingly evident that moving the Wolfpack One Card office to FARGO Connect was the best option.
“After researching what other schools were using and where the industry was moving, I knew I wanted to look at a cloud-based system and not rely upon a system that used printer drivers that would inevitably be forgotten with any Windows update,” explains Dunham. “Knowing this, Mark and I began discussing the FARGO Connect solution, and it seemed like a solution that would fit well with the NC State operation.”
In addition to the much-needed update, the move to FARGO Connect would also help NC State operate more flexibly than ever before.
“The flexibility that Fargo Connect offers is massive when compared to desktop solutions,” says Degan. “There’s no software to install, simply ship the hardware to the destination, supply internet to them, and power on.”
“Chris can now be anywhere on campus and manage or issue credentials conveniently,” says Degan. “He can also scale whenever they are ready to print at satellite locations.”
“Since the implementation of HID Fargo Connect and the addition of online photo upload, the workflow for card issuance at NC State is much more streamlined,” says Dunham. “Since we began using the product, we’ve decreased card waste substantially and had at least 90% of new cards printed and ready to be issued weeks before students first arrive on campus.”
NC State also moved away from their older 300 DPI printers that weren't providing the high-quality results needed for an advanced campus card and an operation of that size.
“We needed a high-definition print, and we also have multiple forms of technology inside the card, which drastically increases the price,” says Dunham. “Being that the card is so expensive, minimizing unnecessary loss was paramount.”
NC State utilizes a dual-technology cardstock that has contactless chips and antennas inside the card, explains Degan. “Cards with technology are not perfectly flat, so the best way to customize them is by using reverse transfer technology.”
With reverse transfer printing, imagery isn’t printed directly onto the card itself, but rather printed onto a transfer film that is then it applied on top of the card. Think a bed sheet on a mattress.
“NC State's campus card also has a very large photo of the cardholder, and 300 DPI resolution wasn’t going to cut it,” explains Degan. “By going with the 600 DPI print quality, the high-definition cards are crystal clear and easy to identify for campus safety officers.”
The university opted for the HID FARGO HDP6600, because, in addition to the great image quality, the printer is able to issue cards from a cold start in an extremely short amount of time.
“With its instant on (iON) technology, the HDP6600 can go from a cold start to full printing in under 20 seconds,” explains Degan. “It is not uncommon for other printers to take two and a half minutes for that warm-up process.”
The overhaul at NC State was also done remotely, proving that overhauling a card issuance operation can be done without having a big team on campus. The leg work can be done in a way that’s easy for the end user.
“Usually, we have to be onsite to rip and replace systems like this,” explains Degan. “Fortunately, HID created a product that can be setup well in advance of when the hardware ever turns on.”
“ColorID is the level-one support team for FARGO Connect,” adds Degan. “With our experience, we consistently get the end user up and running without having to involve the manufacturer.”
NC State is one of ColorID's longest-standing customers, and the trust built over years of support made for an easier migration.
“ColorID has been key in every iteration of the Wolfpack One Card Office; they have seen multiple regime changes since we started working together and have consistently been supportive,” says Dunham. “They do way more than provide cardstock and printers; they offer guidance and knowledge, even if it leads towards a solution they may not sell.”
“There are a lot of resellers, distributors and manufacturers out there that have one solution to offer,” says Degan. “We’re confident that they can’t be truly agnostic and select the best-in-class solutions that are the right for a campus like ColorID can.”
Durham agrees. “I couldn't ask for a better partner for NC State,” he says.