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How to Choose a Scanner (Part 1)

How To Choose A Scanner (Part 1)
How To Choose A Scanner (Part 1)

Over the past 25 years of helping customers implement document management systems, one of the first hurdles is deciding what type of scanner they need. Many of them just assume they will be buying the fastest one available, and many just want to buy the cheapest thing they can.

Others just want to use the copier machine to do it (which can be an option if it is the right choice). One company called us up and said they “want to buy a scanner”. I said fine, what are you going to be scanning and where are the images going. They had no idea of what to do with the images, just that they were going to scan documents.

So below I am going to outline some of the things to think about when choosing a scanner.

  1. Speed: The first decision seems to always come down to how fast does the scanner needs to be. And that decision is made of several components.

  2. First and foremost, how many pages are going to be scanned per day per scanner. If the number is around 100, then most any scanner will do. If the number is 10,000 or more then very few scanners will keep up. Let’s take the 10,000 and figure out how fast the scanner needs to be, and assume it is one 8-hour shift. If it is more shifts, just modify the number of hours below. All scanners are rated on a page-per-minute (ppm) and an image-per-minute (ipm), for double-sided documents, basis. An 8-hour shift contains 480 minutes. If all things were nice and neat, we would just take that and divide the 10,000 by 480 and that would be our ppm number. But no scanner is kept running 100% for all 8 hours. There is always the time to load and unload the feed trays, breaks for the operator, jams to be corrected, etc. We are going to take a 70% operational factor on our number. (10,000 / 480) / .7 = 30 ppm So, it looks like a nice inexpensive 30 ppm scanner will fill the bill. Ah, but wait let’s look at the next and other factors.

  3. Double-sided – remember the “ipm” number above. A lot of the scanners may have an ipm number that is not equal to twice the ppm number. So, if your documents contain a lot of double-sided pages then you may need to redo the number above based on the ipm rating.

Next week we will continue the discussion on how to choose a scanner.