Recommended Workflow for Large Format Scanning

By Lisa Desautels posted 01-26-2012 19:59


So many times, we jump into the process because it seems so simple.  Until you get into the groove and actually use the data, many of us don’t really understand our own needs.  With the large format documents, there are the obvious steps and then there are those we tend to overlook.


Because of a recent project, I wanted to remind everyone of the key factors in incorporating AEC records into a Records Management System.  The consist of the following steps


  1. Selection
  2. Prepping
  3. Scanning
  4. Quality Assurance
  5. Indexing
  6. Quality Assurance
  7. Import to Database for use in Software application


Selection is assumed.  Make sure we know what that means.  Is it the items in an office, the boxes in storage or both? Who decides?.  Is there a priority?


Prepping  the selected items is next.  It is an obvious step to getting drawings ready for scanning, however, there could be many steps required to prep a large format drawing.  Storage in a warehouse means there is dust, lots of dust.  Vacuuming is step one.  Unrolling or unfolding is step two.  You will need at least 48 hour to get the drawings rolled tight to not curl during scanning.  Bring a pair of Craftsman pliers to pull the industrial staple out and don’t forget the ones in the middle of the page. 


Tape one edge and areas that will catch during scanning.  I see organizations prep drawings that are in poor quality excessively.  Remember, you usually only need one straight edge to get it through the scanner.  As long as it doesn’t tear while scanning you should be good.  Also incorporate a unique identifier (see the previous blog entry “It’s all about Control”.  This effort also helps identify duplicates and maintains a unique identifier to reference.


Scanning:  This seems pretty obvious but remembers recommendations include 300 x 300 dpi resolution to a TIF, JPG or PDF File.  Single page or multipage.  Stay Single if you can.  Monochrome or Color – Color when needed.


Quality Assurance:  Why do people think that Quality assurance is watching the scan on the computer?  That’s not Quality Assurance.  So often this component is not included in the workflow.  There is an assumption that because you scan one drawing at a time (no ADF’s here) that you are verifying the quality.  Unfortunately, we find drawings that are cut off, deskewed, need rotation or are not scanned at the right setting but because there was an image, it is assumed the scan is good.  What happens is that after it has been processed for indexing or imported into a system that the image is bad or cut off and you have rescan.  Can you even find the original to rescan it?


Please consider those down the road who will use this data.  It can become very cumbersome to address drawings that are not rotated or because they were not set at the right margins, some of the content is cut off.


Indexing – Forms processing does NOT exist for large format document documents.  The information is never in the same location.   Title blocks are unique to each company, and there are revision dates are in various locations as well.  Make sure that data entry does not transfer the spelling errors and punctuation. Establish standards as part of Best Practices for you indexing.  You may want to create a document that addresses these issues as they arise so when the next group of people tackle this project they have a point of reference and don’t create a new standard. 


These are all important steps in the capture of your large format drawings.

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