Why Your Scanner Matters

By Michael Wells posted 08-05-2010 16:42


“What do you mean, I can’t use my scanner?”

I do hear this from time to time, unfortunately.  You see, we have some fairly strict rules about our capture devices.  Before we took ECM seriously we had a number of users and departments who had purchased scanners with the sole purchasing criteria being price.  These scanners often did not have automatic sheet feeders or consistent drivers.   Most of them were wildly inconsistent in image quality, and even the best of them degraded significantly over time.

As we moved into the ECM world we set some standards.  We had a specific brand of scanners we required for almost all cases (with the exceptions being large-format scanners which were not offered by our chosen brand.)  These scanners were nice, but they were also more expensive than what the users had come to expect to pay for a scanner.  After all, they had just bought one from home from the megamart for less than $100 – why should this be different?

In many cases, the scan of a document starts its journey towards the shredder.  Do you trust a $99 to capture your only legal image of a document?

Without promoting the brand of scanner we purchase, here are some guidelines that should help you:

  • Feeder.  The scanner should have an automatic feeder (unless you are processing rare/fragile documents or large documents that won’t fit in a feeder.) 
  • Duplex scanning.  For many projects the source documents may need both sides imaged.  I can’t imagine the difficulty of that project without a duplex scanner.  I like to set duplex on and use an automated page removal process to catch all the images, just in case one of those documents happens to have a duplex page in it.  The slight loss in processing speed is worth not losing pages from the source documents.
  • User-maintainable parts.  There are some parts of a scanner that WILL wear out, like rollers and pads.  Our manufacturer sells maintenance kits that contain all of the parts and supplies to maintain one scanner for the average volume-year.  Other manufacturers sell replacement scanners.
  • Drivers.  The capture software our ECM system uses has a much better user experience when used with scanners that support ISIS standard drivers.  This allows us to rule out many other scanners from manufacturers who do not support this standard.  Be sure your hardware works with the software, and test, test, test!
  • Consistency.  This, too, might only come from testing.  I have some scanners with 3,000,000+ pages on their counters and those images are still consistent with the first images we received.  Part of this consistency comes from a good user maintenance and cleaning schedule, and part comes from a well-built product.

One guideline we have that you may not have in your environment – no copiers.  One reason is that the images tend to get dirty as the copiers age.  Our biggest reason, however, was that we lease our copiers year-to-year.   Re-designing our business processes for ECM to support new copiers as capture devices was undesirable.  (Plus, nobody wanted to clean the copiers!)

So, I hope this helps you understand a bit why those “IT scanner guys” won’t allow just any scanner.  Comments are welcome, as always!

Oh, and watch for next week's post to see WHY purchasing a few, centrallized scanners works better than many distributed scanners.

#maintenance #ScanningandCapture #feeder #ISIS #Scanners #buyersguide #duplex #drivers.