/ Article Smart Connected Scanning

Dec 10, 2019

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Tackling the paper mountain

According to AIIM*, nearly 40 percent of organizations are dealing with an unprecedented volume of information that must be retained due to governance policies and legal or regulatory guidelines. Keeping on top of this can challenge even the most digitally advanced organizations, who are using technology to seamlessly and swiftly capture and digitize business inputs. An over-reliance on paper alongside ineffective processes to seamlessly capture and digitize business inputs impedes operational efficiency, customer responsiveness and profitable growth.

In today’s competitive economy, digital transformation takes time, and time is money. One of the most time-consuming elements of digitization is document preparation — it’s the first and most important step in a batch scanning process. Half of the staff involved in most scanning operations are dedicated to document preparation. This can include removing paper clips, staples and other binding materials; checking to ensure all edges are unfolded; and inspecting for tears or other damage to pages. There is also a requirement to pre-sort papers that may cause problems during the scanning process. When scanners can’t handle documents of mixed shapes and sizes, staff have to spend significant time to pre- sort or add steps like gluing smaller documents onto A4/letter sheets or cutting longer documents to align with A4 documents. Pre-sorting is also a workaround to address instances where scanners fail to deliver consistent output when processing documents with mixed-quality color and contrast.

“Reliable feeding is one of the top 5 purchase criteria for a production scanning application. For 67% of decision makers, reliable feeding is important or extremely important when selecting a low volume scanner.” - Kodak Alaris sponsored survey of global LVP users, October 2018

In many organizations and within the public sector, digitization starts in the mailroom. Incoming mail has to be dealt with efficiently on a daily basis and often staff have time-sensitive targets to scan documents and make them available for processing by a certain time of day. Where scanning is outsourced, Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) and Scan Service Providers have to meet customers’ service-level agreements (SLAs), which drive challenging goals for throughput and productivity. Even in lower volume client-facing scanning applications, paper feeding issues can occur, resulting in a frustrated clerk and an unhappy customer.

Documents are not perfect

In a perfect world, every digitization project would begin with neatly stacked batches of same the size and weight paper. But in reality, organizations Alaris Paper Handling handle a wide variety of document types every day — including dA4/letter, A3/tabloid and larger or longer format documents, envelopes, postcards, checks, vouchers and ID cards. The majority of  production Scanning applications involve batches with mixed sizes, mixed paper quality or batches including very lightweight documents.**

Documents do not arrive in perfect condition. They are folded, corners are bent or torn, and papers may be wrinkled, lightweight or fragile. Documents may have photographs glued on, post-it notes attached, or be bound together by staples or paperclips.

The mix and condition of documents to be scanned helps define the paper handling requirements of the scanner used for the project.

Where are your documents going?

It’s also important to consider what happens with the documents after scanning. This determines the requirements for output stacking.

  • Scenario 1: Paper documents will be put back into folders after scanning so original order must be maintained.
  • Scenario 2: Paper documents will be stored in boxes for archival purposes so order is not always critical. However, when retaining original order is imperative, image addressing permits sequential numbers to be applied to each scanned document and each batch to be accurately tracked using patch codes.
  • Scenario 3: Paper documents will be destroyed after scanning so the document output order is not important.**

A survey sponsored by Kodak Alaris highlighted that more than 48% of low Volume production scanning applications fall into scenario 1, thus the order of documents is critically important.

Making the right technology choices at the outset can have far-reaching benefits such as ensuring the media handling features are fit for purpose, so operators can complete the scanning process with minimum fuss.

Paper feeding challenges

Feeding challenges increase exponentially in high volume production type environments. For example, a double feed (where two pages stick together) stops the scanning process and forces the operator to determine where the multi-feed occurred. The operator typically needs to delete a partial image and rescan all documents involved. If the documents are damaged during the multi-feed, additional time- consuming steps may include taping or gluing pages to another document for additional stability. This brings the scanning operation to a standstill for several minutes and has a significant negative impact on productivity.

Paper runs smoothly

Kodak i3400 Document Scanner - AlarisAlternatively, a straight-through paper path maintains order for very thick or stiff documents but has no other advantages. The paper path is an important part of a scanner’s design. Leading manufacturers focus much of their attention and engineering expertise on developing the best paper feeding technology available. The design must take into consideration the range of document types that need to be handled. Often this requires trade-offs, as the width of the paper path influences the image quality, depending on the document type. There are simple yet essential design aspects like ensuring there are no catch points in the paper path where pages can get stuck. The “waterfall” design concept is important to ensure that the paper flows through smoothly.

Alaris Paper Handling

Designing an efficient paper path starts with choosing between a C-shaped or straight-through transport. In terms of user comfort, ease of use and reliability, a C-shaped transport is far superior for most uses. A well-designed, C-shaped paper path can handle thicker weight papers.

 

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