Scanning/imaging in itself does not improve efficiency but the resultant ease of access, distribution and reduction in the mass of paper that has been scanned, plus access to the same data at the same time by multiple users locally or around the world gives this process power. Once scanned/imaged and appropriately indexed the information can be access by many of one or multiple images for a multitude of applications at the same time.
How long has scanning/imaging been with us?
Scanning/imaging is based on the principles used in the facsimile (FAX) machine.
Is this a new concept?
No! Not really, Alexander Bain patented the first fax design in 1843 though it took until 1865 for an Italian, Giovanni Caselli to make the concept work.
In 1902 Dr Arthur Korn developed a fax machine with an optical scanner that allowed plain paper images to be sent. Not really the latest thing on the block.
Anyhow, fast forward to 2005 and we now have high speed scanning/imaging devices with a scan speed of up to 230 sheets (460 pages duplex) of A4 = approximately US - A SIZE 8.5 X 11 inches per minute. Not bad throughput without paper jams or misfeeds, or so it is claimed by ScaMax with full details available @ SCAMAX® Document Scanners
Enough for GRUNT, how would I get 230 sheets of paper ready for scanning/imaging so I can get the throughput of 13,800 sheets of paper per hour out of the scanner? And herein lies the dilemma. The actual scanning/imaging is the easy part. The hard part is preparation e.g. getting the documents ready to scan, unfolding, removing staples etc and then sorting it in some limited way so as to gain the greatest degree of efficiency possible. Some of the tricks are to use barcodes before scanning, and or separation sheets to separate each document, file or batch of files. There are other smarts to obtaining the maximum efficiency available. Once we get the scanning/imaging completed we need to index the digital images created, be they .TIFF, .PDF or some other file format. Indexing is a big overhead and the smarter we can do the job the greater efficiency we can obtain. This is not the place to go into details but a number of options are available.
Now that we have the incoming, outgoing or backlog of paper documents be they 3 X 5 inch index cards up to A0 DIN @ 841 x 1189 mm or US – E @ 34 x 44 inch size drawings scanned/imaged, what next?
Now comes the best part where we reap the benefit of our toil.
As far back as 2000 I have been told that I was controversial by making the following statement – If an organisation is not scanning/imaging incoming documentation at the point of entry to the organisation they are derelict in their duty. This statement really gets people going, but I do believe it to be a truism in that the efficiency of multiple access, reduction in space, and access irrespective of the tyranny of distance and the potential to apply workflow (if appropriate) is something organisations should take by the horns and run with as a matter of duty and an almost life and death scenario in these days of increased competitiveness and need to get the most bang for the buck or do more with less at every level of an organisation.
If you have not considered scanning/imaging as offering potential areas of improved efficiency and cost savings please take another look. You may be surprised and hopefully you may find more dollars in your pocket after implementation of a scanning/imaging application than before the implementation of the system.
Laurie Varendorff ARMA
Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president and national director, has been involved in records management for 31 years. He has his own consulting and training business near Perth, Western Australia, and has tutored in recordkeeping and archival storage and preservation at Perth’s Edith Cowan University. Phone: +61 (0)8 9291 6925; mobile: 0417 094 147; email @ Laurie Varendorff
SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to be negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.