The ability to quickly print and distribute ID badges helps security operations at Navistar International Corp., a $12+ billion manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks, midsized trucks, school buses, diesel engines and replacement parts.

It has been five years since former President George W. Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 and one year since federal agencies were required to provide computerized Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards to all employees and contractors. Yet, many government agencies are short of that goal. By the end of the fiscal 2009 third quarter, according to the Office of Management and Budget:
  • 4.6 million Government employees required PIV credentials and 58.6 percent had received them.
  • 1.25 million contractors required PIV credentials and 59.7 percent had received them.
  • 64 agencies were using General Services Administration managed services to issue PIV cards.
  • Less than 10 percent of employees had been issued PIV cards at the Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments.     

Yet for many businesses, ID cards have been effectively used for many years to track employees and visitors and maintain a secure work environment. A successful employee and visitor ID card system must not only be easy to use for employees and visitors and be forgery proof, they must also be cost effective.

Preventing Tailgating

Preventing people entering doors after authorized employees without having to show badges was top of mind when Manpower, Inc. was configuring its new headquarters building in downtown Milwaukee, Wis. The company is a leader in the employment services industry with a worldwide network of 4,500 offices in 80 countries and territories and 400,000 clients per year.
In addition to 1,300 employees working on site, many guests regularly enter the facility as well. Manpower needed to ensure that it properly accounted for all individuals in the building, whether employees or guests, while maintaining a welcoming atmosphere.
Started in Milwaukee, in 1948, Manpower has kept its global headquarters in its hometown. In 2007, the company moved from a suburban location to its new home base in the city’s downtown.
“In moving from a suburban to an urban location, we didn’t want security measures to give employees or guests the impression that it was a dangerous environment,” said James Stewart, risk manager at Manpower.
At its previous building, Manpower had double entrance doors and employees held their badges up to a reader. That literally opened the door at times, to “tailgaters.”
Dretison Technologies implemented a complete security solution that included a Zebra color card printer so that Manpower can create badges with digitally encoded, error-free data in an RFID tag, and then wirelessly transmit that data to an RFID reader. The reader recognizes the tag on each person entering the facility, allowing reception and security personnel to identify guests who don’t have identification.
Authorized Manpower staff can now print badges for new employees or deactivate badges for employees leaving the company. Currently, they have 1,300 employee badges, as well as 100 guest badges. Guest badges are numbered and reissued repeatedly as guests come and go.
Now, everyone enters the facility and guests are quickly identified. Receptionists, called ambassadors, no longer have to be the frontline security enforcers every moment of the day, said Stewart.
“Our ambassadors have a new role,” Stewart said. “They can step away for a moment to take care of something else and the entrance is still monitored remotely.”

ID Cards Lead to Quick IDs

How do you quickly update, print and distribute ID cards for 32,000 students, from early childhood to high school age? The Irving Independent School District in Irving, Tex. had been using student ID badges with PINs and barcodes for its 20 elementary, seven middle and five high schools. The ID cards were used to gain access to the school, in addition to check out library books, laptops and use the lunch program, among other things. However, Dr. Lea Bailey, director of Learning Services for the Irving Independent School District, wanted a new ID card system – a faster way to input and output student and visitor data. The new system also had to be web-based and give 40 to 50 people access to the system at one time.
“Having ID badges is critical for our school system, especially for our early childhood children,” Dr. Bailey said. “Some of those children are English language learners who cannot say their own name. At the end of the school day, we need a fast and easy way to identify them, which door they are leaving and who they are going home with. This is especially important when there is a substitute teacher for that day.”
Dr. Bailey implemented a customized photo ID system from Screencheck with a card printer that allows school district staff to input student information and quickly print out an ID card that includes a student photo and a barcode. The database can be quickly modified and downloaded in a report form, and ID badges are printed “within one minute” Dr. Bailey said. “Over a three-day period, we printed 2,000 badges with three card printers. I also like that we can easily change the card template based on the school for which we are printing badges.”
The new system provides secure access and integrity of school district data in a flexible and easy-to-use manner.  It provides a photo capture system that includes auto-capture and auto-crop camera features for one-click capturing and image cropping from decentralized work stations, an intuitive card design software that is completely customizable per campus, a local print manager for decentralized single or batch printing or host printing for centralized single or batch printing, card integration with Library and Cafeteria services, full card management audit and report capabilities and linux server software supporting standard web browsers, among other capabilities. The solution, project installation and training was provided by Precision Business Machines. The installation and cutover spanned three weeks, and included the use of mobile image capturing units to support high-volume school sites during registration time.

Bringing Card Printers Back in the Game

Casinos large and small have a need for single- or multi-purpose identification or loyalty cards for players and employees. According to Kathryn Lodato of Zebra Card Printer Solutions, traditionally, the card printing function has been outsourced, but affordable and efficient modern card printers make it possible to bring card printing back on site. 
Crystal Bay Club Casino, located on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore in Nevada, uses two single-sided printers that are optimized for fast color printing to create more than 100,000 player loyalty cards per year. The cards are pre-printed with the casino’s logo, so only one pass is required to personalize the front of the card with each player’s name and account number.
“Our goal in choosing the card printers was to provide on-the-spot player tracking cards for our casino guests,” said James Hunnell of Crystal Bay Club Casino. 
The casino also uses its printers to encode a magnetic stripe on the card that stores detailed information about each player. The printers are used in conjunction with a specialized player tracking system that includes both hardware and software and is connected to a central database. 
More than 300 cards are printed every day by 18 staff members, ranging from seasoned managers to entry-level employees. The casino’s two Zebra printers are networked so that users can print from any terminal at the casino.
Another casino, Barona Casino, located on the Barona Indian tribal lands 30 miles of San Diego, also issues personalized membership cards to players on demand via its Club Barona program. Barona Casino, like the Crystal Bay Casino, uses cards with a preprinted design rather than print the entire design at the time of issue. 
“This saves us valuable time,” said Lee Skelley, assistant general manager of casino operations. “When you have people arriving by the busload, you need to process and issue the cards as quickly as possible. We chose to use preprinted cards because it would take 25 seconds to print the entire card in color but it only takes five seconds to print the personalization in one color on the preprinted card.” 

How to Choose and Use an ID Card Printer

ID card printer capabilities can encompass high-resolution graphics and reliable barcodes, plus covert features printed at the time of issue.
What do you look for in a system? Should the ID badging system stand alone or be part of a larger system for access control, time-and-attendance and visitor badging?
The difference between success and failure in choosing an ID badging system lies with the printer. And it’s important to understand how many badges you produce annually, weekly and daily before choosing one. Here are some more tips from Infinias and Keyscan:
  1. Have multiple badge printers for large events or any time you need to print a large batch of cards in a short time (e.g. thousands in a few days). You could even rent them for the duration of an event.
  2. Plan for errors – buy 105 percent to 110 percent of what you think you need will need for immediate use, because cards will have errors (they can be put into the card printer incorrectly or can include the wrong information printed).
  3. Buy your supplies in advance – so that you have them when you need them – especially on the initial purchase. Because of the types of dye film that can be used, many vendors do not include film with the printer. 
  4. Follow the manufacturers instructions regarding cleaning the printer.
  5. Know your printer warranty and who to call for support and returns.
  6. If you plan to create the card background and layout, use inexpensive PVC (“blank” cards) for your initial prototypes, as it will save you money over using your “real” cards for experimenting.
  7. Ensure that your photos are clear and as large as possible to make identification easier.
  8. Use bright colors (on borders and fonts) to code and easily distinguish higher risk user groups (e.g. temporary cards, visitor badges or contractors).
  9. Print on the other side. The back side of a photo badge is often left blank and could be used for important information such as emergency procedures and contact numbers. Always print expiry dates directly on temporary cards to easily identify individuals that should no longer be on premises.
  10. Do not print company logos on access control cards in the event of a lost or stolen card.
  11. Reduce the “white space” on the card to prevent fraud.
  12. Have a large amount of consumables available, such as card holders and lanyards.
  13. Add lamination after printing to prevent someone from removing data on the card.
  14. Don’t just print to the card surface, laser engrave your images and data.
To prevent ID card fraud, according to Jonathan Bowen of Digital Identification Solutions Group, it’s best to add layer after layer of complexity to the card surface, which includes laser engraving images and data to the card, reducing the white space and adding lamination after printing to prevent data from being removed.