Finding an ID card supplier to help with card issuance can be a great asset to any university. Even for seasoned card office professionals, navigating the cardstock ordering process, managing lead times, printing and encoding cards, and circulating finished credentials to students can be a bear.
Fortunately, there are alternatives for campuses in need of guidance and backup when it comes to card issuance. Identification solutions and services supplier, ColorID, has long been in the business of helping universities manage the card issuance process start to finish.
For many in the university card space, ColorID will be a familiar name. But what may not be as evident, is the breadth of services and types of card orders the company fills for its university customers.
Consultation is key
Regardless of the size of the job, ColorID works with a campus throughout the card ordering and delivery process, explains Mark Degan, Corporate Marketing Director at ColorID.
“An example of an easier job would be a four-color printed front with standard black print on the back,” says Degan. “A majority of our university requests follow this basic formula. These are lower-friction orders for our operation particularly if they don’t require any encoding or technology chip reading work on our end.”
These are the types of orders that ColorID delivers with routine efficiency, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. As card orders become more advanced, the company works with its campus clients to identify and deliver on a wide range of specific requirements.
“We often see variable encoding and printing included in a card order, which adds complexity,” explains Degan. “This also adds an element of risk, so we always do a separate hard copy proof when customers want mag encoding done.”
In addition to student ID cards, ColorID also covers special event credentialing, which can save considerable time and effort for a campus card office.
“If a university is in need of a temporary, event, or summer conference card, utilizing our in-house service bureau works great. For these types of credentials, we typically suggest reverse transfer or direct-to-card printing (using desktop card printers),” explains Degan. “If the job is for a university’s main student credential, however, we typically utilize a lithographic press (instead of desktop printers) that can print using 3,000 DPI, instead of 300-600 DPI.”
Managing card issuance lead time
Outsourcing card production can be a godsend for a busy campus card office. But it’s also important to be mindful of the time of year that your office places its order, as well as the desired delivery date.
There are several factors that account for a card order’s lead time. Degan highlights some of most important considerations that can affect the card-production timeframe:
- Time of the year. Summer is the busiest season with the greatest number of university orders, while winter tends to be more manageable.
- Technology. Cards that require a dual or even triple technology configuration typically aren’t a stock item. This means it can take longer to procure cardstock from manufacturing facilities.
- Variable printing/encoding. This additional layer of customization adds production time to card orders.
- Rush Orders. ColorID does offer rush orders, which pushes a campus’ request to the head of the line. But rush orders do come with a fee applied to the total order cost.
ColorID processes the full range of card transaction system orders from its fully-equipped headquarters just north of Charlotte, NC.
“Our in-house service bureau has the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously,” says Degan. “We can expand the number of issuance printers on the fly, so in scenarios where we’re getting close to full capacity our team will pull additional backup units to help manage lead times.”
Adding card security elements and advanced printing methods tacks on extra production cost and time, but Degan stresses that it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the team at ColorID.
“Our management staff that oversees the service bureau specializes in issuing customized credentials,” he says. “There isn’t much they haven’t seen as far as technology requests or database submissions.”
If it’s good enough for the slopes…
In addition to its extensive work providing card solutions in higher education, ColorID has also built out impressive portfolios in other verticals. One in particular that bears some crossover to the university space is their work with ski resorts.
According to Degan ski resort credentials, more so than in any other of ColorID’s verticals, place a premium on visual security elements.
“Counterfeiting is very prevalent in the ski industry due in large part to the high cost of season passes,” explains Degan. “To help combat this, our account representatives consult directly with resorts on the implementation of several forms of visual security including foil stamps, holographic overlay, microtext, UV inks, and more.”
Ski resorts routinely implement some combination of these visual security elements, making the resulting credentials – and production process – rather advanced.
“It’s the norm to see ski resorts utilizing a high frequency (13.56 MHz) credential for physical access and POS transactions while also using ultra-high frequency (860-960 MHz) for season pass management,” says Degan. “The ultra-high frequency has a much longer read range at 20+ feet. This makes it ideal for monitoring which slopes are being used most frequently, as well as being able to scan season passes without guests needing to remove gloves to fish around for their credential.”
Despite the difference in environment, there are lessons to be gleaned by the university space from these advanced credential implementations.
“Regardless of which vertical market we’re working with, there is always technology overlap,” says Degan. “At the end of the day, we’re constantly learning from our other verticals’ past mistakes and successes and offer those up as learning experiences that our university customers can benefit from.”
An ID card supplier with industry experience
Even before a university places an order, ColorID offers an array of informative resources for campus card professionals.
“We offer a broad range of consultative services,” says Degan. “Typically this involves us hosting webinars, but we also visit universities in person to conduct campus site surveys and provide the institution with an overview report.
ColorID’s consultative services are intended to provide solutions specific to each university. “Honestly, it’s very simple; we listen,” says Degan. “We gather information around each campus department’s demands, and then identify which solutions will best fit those parameters.”
“We know that no two university environments are built exactly alike,” he adds. “We try to avoid ‘magic-bullet’ solutions, and instead tailor card solutions to each campus’ specific needs.”